Police officers almost always ask you to participate in at least one – if not more – OVI tests. It’s their standard operating procedure. The results of these tests are what the majority of OVI charges are based on, because the point of the tests, and the reason they were designed, is to decide if the use of drugs or alcohol has impaired your ability to drive.
There are four types of tests used to determine your level of sobriety:
- Field sobriety tests performed at the side of the road
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Breath tests
All of these tests can show you to be intoxicated when you aren’t, and vice versa. If one shows you to be drunk when you are not, you still get arrested. A highly trained and experienced Youngstown OVI attorney will know how to examine the test results, as well as the examiner and the administration of the tests, and identify errors that have been made. These errors can get your charges lowered or dismissed.
Field Sobriety Tests
These tests are given at the side of the road. Their purpose is to demonstrate your ability to balance, as well as your coordination, and to measure your responses so police can decide if you are intoxicated. The tests have been standardized by the National Highway Safety Administration, and are used in all fifty states.
In the Walk and Turn Test, a driver is asked to walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe, while you count their steps. You must do all this without losing your balance or stumbling. The officer may decide you’re intoxicated if you lose count of your steps, fail to follow instructions perfectly, or use your arms to balance.
In the One Leg Stand Test, a driver is told to stand with his or her feet together. He or she is then instructed to lift one leg and balance on the other. He or she also has to count out loud while holding their leg up. The test lasts for 30 seconds. The officer can declare you impaired if you lost count, hop, lower your foot, or cannot maintain your balance.
In the HGN (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) Test, you are asked to follow the police officer’s pen, flashlight, or finger with only your eyes and without moving your head. The officer is looking for jerky, involuntary movements, especially of the eyes, that can indicate drug and alcohol usage.
There are many problems with Field Sobriety Tests. For one, they are performed on the side of the road, in whatever weather is present, and often in the dark. The conditions of the road surface play a part in how well the tests are completed. The sides of Ohio’s roads are often banked to allow water to drain off the roadway. They are frequently pitted with holes, and narrow, as well.
Medical conditions, weight, and age play a factor in the successful completion of the tests. Being overweight can keep you from performing the Walk and Turn or One Leg Stand tests to the satisfaction of the officer. Senior citizens often have trouble with balance. Legal prescriptions and certain medical conditions can prevent you from performing the tests adequately, even when you’re stone cold sober.
Another problem with FST’s is the training of the officer performing the test. If he or she was not adequately trained, their conclusions as to the results of the test could be faulty.
A Youngstown OVI lawyer like Sean Logue, who has been defending clients faced with OVI charges for a decade, knows what questions to ask and what to look for when he reviews the results of field sobriety tests.
Blood, Breath, and Urine Tests
Ohio is one of those states in which a person gives their implied consent to chemical OVI testing simply by signing on the dotted line to receive a driver’s license. When you are driving a vehicle and are pulled over by police, you are required to submit to one or more of these tests if the officer asks you to. These tests, especially breath tests, can be performed at the police station or state trooper barracks, but are often done at hospitals.
You are allowed to refuse to submit to these tests, but if you do, your license is automatically suspended.
If you have been asked to perform field sobriety or chemical testing to determine if you were intoxicated while driving, call Youngstown Criminal Law Group immediately.