If you are operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) and you are stopped by a Columbus police officer, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests have been used for years by police officers nationwide to help determine if drivers are intoxicated. While it is legal to refuse to submit to a Columbus field sobriety test, it may not stop drivers from being arrested and charged with an OVI. Field sobriety test results may or may not be used in court as evidence of a driver’s sobriety, but they are an invaluable tool used by Columbus law enforcement to help determine if a driver has the balance and coordination to operate a motor vehicle.
Field sobriety test were standardized in the late 1970s by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A Columbus field sobriety test includes three basic tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and the one leg stand. The results of the field sobriety test may not always be accurate or conclusive especially if the Columbus driver is over the age of 65, physically or mentally impaired or more than 50 pounds over-weight. Many Columbus drivers may have trouble completing the Columbus field sobriety test even if they are completely sober.
Columbus police officers gather evidence of a driver’s intoxication before, after and during a traffic stop. Columbus drivers who are weaving, swerving or driving too fast or slowly may be intoxicated. Columbus police officers also examine the physical characteristics of a driver. Is the driver stumbling? Do they have blurry or blood-shot eyes? This could mean they are DUI or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Columbus drivers who have failed a Columbus field sobriety test should contact a Columbus DUI lawyer as soon as possible. A Columbus OVI conviction is not like other moving traffic violations. Columbus drivers can face a variety of serious penalties and fines which can have lasting consequences.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Columbus police officers use the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or HGN to measure the nystagmus or the movement of the driver’s eye as a light or pen is moved in front of the driver’s face. Alcohol or drug intoxication has been scientifically proven to impact the ability of the brain to control the eye muscles. If the Columbus driver is unable to track the light in a coordinated motion, with out jerking or erratic eye movement, they could be intoxicated. They also may have a neurological disease or congenital eye defect.
- Walk and turn – Columbus officers may also have a driver perform the walk and turn test. The Columbus driver must stand with their hands to their side and walk 9 steps forward, turn and walk back. Drivers who are unable to walk the line with out moving their arms, falling or swaying may be intoxication.
- One leg stand – The Columbus police officer may also have the driver complete the one leg stand. Columbus drivers are asked to stand straight, put their arms to their sides and hold their leg approximately 6 inches from the ground. Either the driver or the field officer will count aloud for about 30 seconds. The driver should be able to stand straight with out falling, lowering their leg or raising their arms. Unfortunately, this test may be difficult for certain drivers who do not have good coordination or balance or who are not physically fit.
- Finger to the nose – Columbus police officers may have additional non-standardized tests they can use to identify an intoxicated driver. Counting backwards, reciting the alphabet and the finger to the nose test may also be used. Can the driver lean their head back, close their eyes and touch their nose? If not, they could be intoxicated.
Hiring a Columbus DUI lawyer
Columbus drivers who have failed a field sobriety test in Columbus, Ohio, should contact a DUI lawyer. Field sobriety test are an important tool for the Columbus police department, but they can be inaccurate if they are done improperly. Unfortunately, even positive test results can lead to inaccurate conclusions about a driver’s sobriety.
Drivers who refuse to submit to a field sobriety test in Columbus may be asked to take a chemical test (blood, breath, urine) to test their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Columbus drivers, under Columbus Implied Consent Laws, have agreed to submit to these tests in order to drive in Ohio. Drivers who fail this test or who refuse to take this test can face a license suspension of up to 1 year.