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Field Sobriety Tests in Wheeling
West Virginia utilizes Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) to evaluate driver sobriety. These tests, which underwent meticulous study by the National Highway Safety Administration and were standardized for police officer and highway patrolman use, are easy to administer. Initially introduced in the 1970s and extensively studied throughout the 1980s, SFSTs provide crucial information.
Outlined below are commonly utilized Field Sobriety Tests:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer asks you to track the movement of a pen or similar object with just your eyes, while keeping your head stationary.
- One-legged stand test: Standing on one leg, you raise your other foot approximately 6 inches off the ground and audibly count. The officer will time you for 30 seconds to assess stability and accuracy.
- Walk and turn test: You are instructed to walk heel to toe along the road’s white line for a specific number of steps, then turn and return the same way.
It is important to understand that even individuals who are physically capable and sober may struggle with these tests. Disabilities, illnesses, injuries, or being overweight can hinder successful completion, leading to the appearance of intoxication or impairment when that is not the case. Furthermore, it is worth noting that road surfaces are often uneven, especially where the white line is located, and not all officers administer the tests correctly.
It is crucial to know that you are not legally obligated to undergo a field sobriety test. If desired, you have the right to refuse participation in these tests.
Chemical Testing in West Virginia and Implied Consent
The term “chemical testing” refers to the blood, breath, or urine tests utilized by law enforcement officials to determine if a person is driving under the influence (DUI).
When you accepted your driver’s license, you agreed to undergo chemical testing as a part of the “implied consent” principle. This means that when requested by law enforcement, you are obligated to undergo such tests.
During a traffic stop, if an officer suspects DUI, they may ask you to blow into a portable breath machine, commonly known as a preliminary breath test (PBT), roadside breath test, or breathalyzer. You may be asked to comply with a breathalyzer test with or without being requested to perform field sobriety tests.
However, it is noteworthy that the reliability and accuracy of these portable breath tests are questionable, and they are not admissible in court by the prosecutor.
Refusing to take a breathalyzer test or perform field sobriety tests will not prevent the police from arresting you if they believe you are intoxicated. The legal consequences arise when you refuse to undergo a chemical blood, breath, or urine test, falling under the concept of implied consent. While you have the right to refuse, doing so may result in other charges. For example, if you refuse a breath test, you may face both civil and criminal charges apart from Operating a Vehicle under the Influence (OVI). Refusing a blood test may lead to civil charges without criminal implications.
If you are arrested for drunk driving and provided a blood, urine, or breath sample to the police, contact Wheeling WV Criminal Lawyer immediately.
Attorneys Sean Logue and the Mountaineer Criminal Law Group have undergone extensive training in OVI laws, defenses, and arrest procedures. Handling numerous cases, they bring tenacity and dedication, often obtaining reduced or dismissed charges for their clients.
For a complimentary initial consultation, call (304) 381-3656 at any time, day or night.
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