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Field Sobriety Tests

Ohio uses Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) to determine if a driver might be intoxicated. Standard Field Sobriety Tests are a series of easy to administer “tests” that were studied by the National Highway Safety Administration and standardized for use by police officers and highway patrolmen. The first tests were introduced in the 1970’s and studied through the 1980’s.

The following is a list of commonly used Field Sobriety Tests:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test – where the cop asks you to follow the movement of a pen or other object with only your eyes and without moving your head
  • One-legged stand test – where the cop asks you to stand on one leg, lifting the other foot about 6 inches off the ground and then asking you to count out loud. The cop will time you for 30 seconds to see if you can hold your foot up and count correctly.
  • Walk and turn test – where the cop asks you to walk heel to toe on the white line of the road for so many steps then turn and walk back the same way.

The thing to remember about Field Sobriety Tests is that even able-bodied, sober people struggle with them. A person with a disability, illness, or injury, or who is overweight may not be able to successfully complete these tests and will appear intoxicated or impaired when they are not. Also, the surfaces of most roads, especially at the side where the white line is, are not smooth. Finally, not all cops perform the tests correctly.

You are not legally required to perform a field sobriety test. If you wish, you can refuse to take them.

Chemical Testing in Ohio and Implied Consent

The term “chemical testing” refers to any blood, breath, or urine test used by police officials to determine if a person is driving under the influence.

“Implied consent” is a term that means that you agreed, at the time you accepted your driver’s license and signed on the line, to undergo chemical testing when requested by law enforcement.

Many times, an officer will, during a traffic stop when he suspects you are driving drunk, ask you to blow into a portable breath machine to check your blood alcohol level. This portable machine is called a preliminary breath test, a roadside breath test, or a breathalyzer. You may be asked to comply with a breathalyzer test with or without being asked to perform field sobriety tests.

If the breathalyzer test indicates you are intoxicated (i.e. your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit), you will be arrested for OVI. The good news is that these portable breath tests are both unreliable and inaccurate, and are not allowed to be used by the prosecutor in court.

There are no legal ramifications for refusing to take a breathalyzer test, just as there are none for refusing to perform field sobriety tests. Not taking the tests will not stop the cops from arresting you if they think you’re drunk, though.

The consequences for refusal come in when you do not consent to a chemical blood, breath, or urine test. This is where implied consent comes in. You can refuse, but if you do, you face other charges. In the case of a breath test, you may face both civil charges and criminal ones apart from your OVI. If you refuse a blood test, you could face civil charges, but will not have to deal with criminal ones.

If you are arrested for drunk driving and gave a blood, urine, or breath sample to the police, call Logue Law Group immediately.

Sean Logue and Logue Law Group are attorneys who have participated in extensive training in OVI laws, defenses, and arrest procedures. They’ve handled hundreds of cases, bringing their tenacity and dedication to each and often getting charges reduced or dismissed.

For a free initial consultation, call 330-531-8505 at any time of the day or night.

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