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Police officers administer field sobriety tests in Columbus and throughout Ohio to establish probable cause for arresting people for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. Researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed the ones most commonly used, and the Ohio Department of Public Safety believes that how suspects perform on the tests indicate whether they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher—above the legal limit in Ohio.
The main tests officers use to determine if you are driving under the influence of alcohol are the following:
These are called the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs.
An officer will ask you to step out of your car for any number of reasons. But he’ll only ask you to perform field sobriety tests if he spotted something that made the officer think you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. This could have been slurred speech, fumbling with your license and registration, responding to questions slowly, or smelling like alcohol or marijuana.
Yes, and they are getting used more frequently.
In Ohio, officers who complete Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training can administer assessments such as a vertical gaze nystagmus test, a pupil assessment, and a lack of convergence test to collect evidence for an OVI arrest. These tests get conducted in addition to the SFSTs but are little understood. If you get arrested based on your performance on one of these extra tests, hire an attorney with experience handling drug-related OVIs.
Yes. The stakes for performing poorly are high, so you can choose to exercise your right to prevent incriminating yourself. Hint: Do so politely.
No. Many medications and health conditions can make passing them difficult.
For example, nystagmus can affect individuals from birth, and the problem can develop after a stroke or head injury. People who have nystagmus all the time simply cannot perform an HGN test perfectly, even when stone-cold sober. Other examples like this include men and women with poor hearing who may miss and misconstrue an officer’s instructions, and heavy people or older individuals who can find remaining upright on one foot impossible under any conditions.
The realities are that field sobriety tests can produce false positives and that some officers conduct the tests sloppily. Inaccurately and poorly administered tests should never support an OVI charge, let alone a conviction. Make sure you hire an attorney that knows how to demonstrate these points to a judge or jury.
YES. A knowledgeable defense attorney will know how to present medical evidence that explains poor SFST performance. A skilled defense lawyer will also know how to challenge the way an officer conducted the OVI stop and how to demonstrate to a court if the officer carried out any part of the testing procedure improperly.
Campbell Law stands apart from other field sobriety test lawyers in Columbus, Ohio, in its ability to aggressively defend OVI suspects.
Call us for free or contact us online to see if we can help you with your case.