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Roadside Field Sobriety Testing

Field sobriety tests are performed by law enforcement agencies throughout Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe as a means of developing probable cause for a DUI arrest. They are meant to test the individual's ability to handle their automobile in both a physical and psychological manner. While these tests are used by many different law enforcement agencies they are not considered 100% accurate. Almost all DUI attorneys agree that these tests should be refused.

Some of the tests with which the public may be acquainted include the alphabet test, balance test, counting test, finger-to-nose test and the portable breath test (or PBT). One thing to keep in mind is that while these tests are commonly used, many of them are still considered to be non-validated. The alphabet test involves having the suspect recite the alphabet both forward and backward. While easy to do in the correct order, when the alphabet is recited backward it becomes much more difficult.

One thing that must be kept in mind is that if the officer suggests the PBT you should politely refuse. These tests are unreliable and are not a scientifically accepted means of determining the BAC of a suspect. No matter what may be suggested, this test is voluntary and should be treated as such.

One of these tests is the Walk-and-Turn. This test involves having the suspect walk a straight line first one direction then another while keeping the feet heel to toe. Many officers will require no more than nine steps in either direction. Some may even require the arms to be held straight out to the sides. This allows them to look for a loss of balance or inability to follow verbal commands such as not touching the heel to the toe, stepping off the line, or even stopping abruptly during the maneuver.

Another means of determining loss of balance is by having the suspect stand on one leg. This will allow them to look for swaying drastically, having to use the arms for balance and having to hop to keep balance. The last standardized test is the Nystagmus test. This is performed by holding a small object in front of the suspect's face and moving it up and down or side to side. This can be a giveaway for those who have been drinking as alcohol impairs the body's ability to control the eyes and rapid jerking may occur.

While these tests are all used by the many different branches of law enforcement, one thing must be kept in mind. They are completely voluntary and are mainly a means of justifying a person's subsequent arrest and booking so that other means of testing may be administered. Keep in mind that you have the option to refuse these tests. Make sure that if you do so that it is in a courteous manner. There are many different people who cannot pass these tests for physical or mental reasons. It is important that the right to refuse such objective tests be retained by all citizens.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe or anywhere in Maricopa County, contact Phoenix DUI Lawyer Joshua S. Davidson today to schedule a free initial consultation.