Getting pulled over by the police for anything can lead to delays, frustrations and expenses. If the police officers suspect you of operating while intoxicated (OWI), you could face incarceration, larger fines and the loss of your license.
For police to establish chemical impairment, they generally need evidence that supports their suspicions. Quite a few people focus their concerns on chemical breath tests, but there is another test they will take first in almost all situations.
When police officers suspect chemical impairment, they usually have to validate those concerns with a field sobriety test in order to have probable cause for chemical breath tests. What does a field sobriety test involve?
Officers will see how well you can split your attention
One of the effects of chemical impairment is difficulty with cognition, especially with multitasking. Officers will provide verbal instructions during a traffic stop to test a driver.
The walk-and-turn test requires that someone maintain their balance and perform motor function while simultaneously following verbal instructions. A police officer may also ask someone to perform the one-leg stand test which focuses on the same set of skills.
There are limits to these tests, including how frequently someone drinks and whether they have to practice these skills while under the influence.
Officers do an eye test that is nearly impossible to trick
While you might be able to practice walking and turning or standing on one leg while drinking at home, nothing you do can overpower your body’s biological responses to alcohol.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test specifically looks for known physical behaviors that result from alcohol intoxication. Officers will ask you to follow their fingers with your gaze without turning your head. Involuntary twitches of the eyes during this process can be a strong indicator of chemical intoxication.
Field sobriety test that you perform can give officers grounds to request a chemical breath test. They may be able to arrest you immediately if you fail or refuse the test. Still, even those who have failed a breath test or a field sobriety test may have options to defend against an OWI in the Iowa criminal courts.