Police agencies spanning Mississippi have no shortage of tools and mechanisms that they employ to identify alleged drunk drivers and ultimately convict them on criminal charges.
Sobriety checkpoints (also termed DUI roadblocks) are common across the state. Roving saturation patrols are sometimes employed, especially during periodic enforcement campaigns conducted several times each year.
Moreover, police and prosecutors use the results of blood draws and breathalyzer tests to measure blood-alcohol levels.
And they often rely on up-close roadside tests to make judgments on whether a motorist is intoxicated. The subjectivity in their evaluations can sometimes render a DUI conclusion problematic. Moreover, it can also make it imperative for an arrested individual to secure proven and aggressive help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
What exactly are DUI-linked field sobriety tests?
Candidly, many drivers in Mississippi and nationally don’t know much – if anything – about sobriety tests administered at the site of a police stop.
They should know this, though: Declining to submit to those tests upon the urging of a police offer cannot be used against a person in court as evidence of behind-the-wheel impairment.
Alleged dismal performance can, though. And an in-depth legal overview of field sobriety testing underscores the perils potential linked with a failed result.
Prior to spotlighting those, it might be useful to quickly sketch for readers the basics of the “Standardized Field Sobriety Test” used by law enforcers nationally. The test focuses on an officer’s observance and evaluation concerning the following:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (check for exaggerated eye jerking in side-to-side movements and when tracking a moving object)
- One-leg stand test (this is obvious, with stability and steadiness being closely observed)
- Walk-and-turn test (examination of balance and fluidity in gait)
Many readers scrutinizing those prongs might quickly note their firm disinclination to undergo such testing.
And for good reason. It can hard enough to perform well on any of those tests even under optimal conditions.
Trying to satisfy the subjective opinion of a uniformed officer on a roadside in a stressful flashing-lights environment can make satisfactory performance virtually impossible.
Legions of people have balancing problems, health issues tied to aging and other factors, and/or a natural propensity to perform badly under heightened stress. Field sobriety testing can serve to virtually ensure alleged testing failure.
The results of that can be dire. Many law enforcers use sobriety test findings to demand blood-alcohol testing, which is readily admissible in court.
As stressed above, contacting an experienced DUI-defense attorney can logically be the first order of business for a motorist arrested on a driving-under-the-influence charge. Timely and diligent legal representation can often go far toward securing an optimal case outcome.