A field sobriety test is a test conducted by law enforcement at the roadside to determine if you are impaired by alcohol. A breathalyzer test administered at your vehicle is one example of a field sobriety test, but there are also many other types of tests that law enforcement may use to determine if your faculties are impaired.
Field sobriety tests are often very subjective and unreliable, making them problematic evidence for a prosecuting attorney in a DUI case. If you have been accused of driving under the influence, you may be able to successfully challenge the accuracy of a field sobriety test in order to avoid conviction. A Birmingham DUI attorney can assist you in determining whether a field sobriety test can be challenged and in building a strong case to raise questions about the test and avoid conviction for DUI. At the Eversole Law Office, our attorneys have helped countless clients in Jefferson, Madison and Shelby Counties and throughout Alabama to avoid a DUI conviction by introducing doubt about DUI testing. To learn more about how we can help, contact our Birmingham Alabama DUI lawyers today at (866) 831-5292 to schedule a free consultation.
Alabama DUI Laws and Field Sobriety Testing
Under Alabama Code section 32-5A-191, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content is above .08 but you can also be charged if you are otherwise intoxicated or impaired by any alcohol, drugs or other mind-altering substances that affects your faculties and make it impossible for you to drive safely. A number of different field sobriety tests can be administered to assess whether you are over-the-limit or whether you are impaired. These include:
- A breath test used to assess the percentage of blood alcohol content in your body, by weight. This is sometimes referred to as a PAS or preliminary alcohol screening test and is typically administered after other field sobriety tests.
- An alphabet test, wherein you are required to recite the alphabet either forwards or backwards.
- A "Rhomberg test" where you are asked to put your feet together and close your eyes. If you begin to sway, this can be a sign of intoxication.
- Being asked to stand on one leg.
- Being asked to follow an object, such as a pen, with only the eyes while holding your head still.
- Being asked to walk in a straight line from heel to toe and then turn.
- A test to determine if you can touch your nose.
- A divided attention test, where you are asked questions while doing other things such as finding your driver's license or registration in your vehicle.
- A test where you are asked to count fingers.
- A test where you are asked to count and increase the speed at which you clap your hands.
These and other types of physical and mental challenges may be posed to you by law enforcement as a method of attempting to find out if you are intoxicated.
Unfortunately, many people have difficulty with these tests even when they are not intoxicated. This is especially true of people who might perform badly on the field sobriety tests due to a medical condition affecting balance or due to test anxiety. Age, gender, size and environment can all have an impact on your ability to pass these tests as well.
Field sobriety tests are also problematic because there is no objective standard used to determine whether a person has correctly passed the test or not. The subjective opinion of law enforcement is used to determine whether a person failed the test, and this opinion may not be accurate, especially if the officer at the scene has not been thoroughly trained in field sobriety testing.
Fortunately, you are not required to submit to field sobriety tests, in part because there are so many questions as to their accuracy. While driving on the streets of Alabama is tantamount to having given implied consent to a BAC test, you may decline field sobriety tests- including a breath test. You will, however, have to submit to a chemical test such as a blood test or urine test after a lawful DUI arrest or you could lose your license for at least 90 days.
If you are asked to take a field sobriety test, it is advisable to decline so there will be less evidence to use against you in your DUI case. If you have already taken a field sobriety test and the evidence is being used against you, an experienced Birmingham Alabama DUI lawyer at the Eversole Law Office can help you to challenge the test and introduce doubt as to the accuracy of the evidence.
At the Eversole Law Office, we have been able to successfully challenge breath tests and other DUI tests for many clients in order to get charges dropped or to win a not-guilty verdict. The sooner we take a case, the sooner we can begin to work with you to build evidence for a DUI defense and to challenge the DUI tests performed. That's why it's important to contact Steven Eversole as soon as you know you'll face DUI charges in Alabama. You can call us toll-free, fill out our confidential online case evaluation form or visit our office in downtown Birmingham.