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Field Sobriety Tests in Wheeling
West Virginia uses Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) to determine if a driver might be intoxicated. These tests were studied by the National Highway Safety Administration and have been standardized for use by police officers and highway patrolmen. Introduced in the 1970s and studied through the 1980s, they are a series of easy-to-administer “tests.”
Here are some commonly used Field Sobriety Tests:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The officer asks you to follow the movement of a pen or object with your eyes only, without moving your head.
- One-legged stand test: The officer asks you to stand on one leg, lifting the other foot approximately 6 inches off the ground. You will be asked to count out loud while the officer times you for 30 seconds to see if you can hold your foot up and count correctly.
- Walk and turn test: The officer asks you to walk heel to toe on the white line of the road for a certain number of steps, then turn and walk back the same way.
It’s important to note that even sober and able-bodied individuals can struggle with these tests. People with disabilities, illnesses, injuries, or who are overweight may not be able to successfully complete them and may appear intoxicated or impaired when they are not. Additionally, road surfaces, especially at the side where the white line is, are often uneven. It’s also worth mentioning that not all officers perform these tests correctly.
Remember, you are not legally required to perform a field sobriety test. If you wish, you can refuse to take them.
Chemical Testing in West Virginia and Implied Consent
Have you ever wondered what “chemical testing” means? It’s the term used when police officials utilize blood, breath, or urine tests to determine if someone is driving under the influence.
But what about “implied consent”? It refers to the agreement you made when you accepted your driver’s license and signed on the line. By doing so, you committed to undergo chemical testing if requested by law enforcement.
Picture this: you’re driving and suddenly get pulled over by an officer who suspects you’re intoxicated. Next thing you know, they ask you to blow into a portable breath machine. This little gadget, also known as a preliminary breath test, a roadside breath test, or a breathalyzer, measures your blood alcohol level. Sometimes, you might be asked to take a breathalyzer test with or without being asked to perform field sobriety tests.
Now, let’s say the breathalyzer test indicates you’re intoxicated (meaning your blood alcohol content is higher than the legal limit). You’ll be arrested for OVI. But here’s the catch: these portable breath tests are unreliable and inaccurate. In fact, the prosecutor cannot even use their results in court.
Here’s another interesting fact: refusing to take a breathalyzer test or perform field sobriety tests won’t prevent the police from arresting you if they believe you’re drunk.
However, the trouble starts when you refuse to consent to a chemical blood, breath, or urine test. Yes, you have the right to refuse, but it comes with consequences. In the case of a breath test, you may face civil charges as well as criminal ones, in addition to your OVI. As for refusing a blood test, civil charges might apply, but you won’t have to deal with criminal charges.
If you find yourself arrested for drunk driving and you provided a blood, urine, or breath sample to the police, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mountaineer Criminal Law Group.
At Mountaineer Criminal Law Group, Sean Logue and his team of Wheeling WV OVI attorneys have undergone extensive training in OVI laws, defenses, and arrest procedures. With their tenacity and dedication, they have handled numerous cases, often achieving reduced or dismissed charges for their clients.
For a free initial consultation, give them a call at (304) 381-3656 at any time of the day or night.
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