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Tests used by law enforcement during a DUI traffic stop

Arizona law takes a strong stand against drunk driving. If convicted, the penalties you could face include time behind bars, expensive fines, loss of driving privileges and more. It is in your interests to know your rights and how to defend yourself in case you find yourself with DUI charges against you. A good place to start is to learn more about what happens during a DUI traffic stop.

Law enforcement cannot pull people over simply because they want to. They must have probable cause to do so. During a traffic stop, police will come to speak to you and to assess whether you are displaying some signs of possible intoxication. These include red eyes, having alcohol on your breath and slurred speech. A police officer may then ask you get out of the vehicle to submit to certain tests called field sobriety tests.

What happens next?

Field sobriety tests are three different tests that law enforcement uses to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. They measure a driver's balance and coordination. Depending on how you do with these tests, police may then ask you to submit to a chemical test of your blood or urine. The three main field sobriety tests include: 

  • Walk-and-turn test – In this test, the driver will walk nine steps in a straight line, then turn around and come back. The officer looks for signs that could indicate impairment from drugs or alcohol.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus – In this test, the officer will ask the driver to follow an object, such as a light or pencil, with his or her eyes while standing still. The officer looks for jerking in the eyes that can indicate impairment.
  • One-leg stand test – In this test, a driver will have to stand with one foot off the ground and count for a certain number of seconds. This officer will look for signs of imbalance. 

These are standard tests, but that does not mean that the police cannot make errors in judgment when deciding if a driver failed the test or not. You have the right to challenge the results of field sobriety tests as part of your defense strategy.

Your best defense starts now

You will find it beneficial to work diligently to develop a strong defense strategy as soon as possible after a DUI arrest. Whether this is your first offense or there are other DUIs on your record, you will want to confront criminal charges and fight for your future.

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