If you are suspected of DUI in Colorado, police will often request that you perform a number of field sobriety tests. Although police will attempt to use these tests to incriminate you, an experienced DUI attorney in Denver will attempt to show the jury that these tests are insignificant in determining guilt.
Sobriety Tests & Signs of Impairment in Colorado
You may have been pulled over for speeding, weaving, or something as simple as a burned out light above your license plate. Whatever the reason, the police now suspect that you are intoxicated and are requesting that you do field sobriety tests.
If this makes you wary, you should be: field sobriety tests are meant to make you incriminate yourself.
Sobriety Field Testing Guidelines
Denver Police follow Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) guidelines that consists of three tests meant to establish impairment and give cause for arrest for drunk driving. The below SFSTs are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Test: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Reason: The HGN test is the reason a police officer asks you to follow a pen or small flashlight with your eyes. HGN stands for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, described as an involuntary jerking of the eye that occurs when the eye gazes to one side. When you are sober, you have to bring your gaze pretty far for HGN to occur. However, HGN occurs easily and is exaggerated in an intoxicated person.
Signs of Impairment: The officer looks for three clues to indicate intoxication. If the eyes show a lack of smooth pursuit, if nystagmus is present and sustained, and if nystagmus is present prior to 45 degrees, the officer will believe the driver to be impaired.
Test: Walk & Turn
Reason: This tests your ability to do two things at once, something that is simple when sober but difficult when intoxicated. After taking a certain number of steps, you must turn on one foot and return in the opposite direction.
Signs of Impairment: There are eight signs of impairment on the walk & turn test. Those include failure to keep balance while listening to instructions, beginning before instructions are finished, stopping to regain balance, failing to touch heel-to-toe, stepping off the line, using arms to balance, making an improper turn or taking an incorrect number of steps.
Test: One Leg Stand
Reason: This tests your balance and coordination to determine whether you are intoxicated. An officer asks to stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count aloud until you put the foot down.
Signs of Impairment: There are four indicators of impairment on the one leg stand test. Those include swaying, using the arms to balance, hopping and putting the foot down.
An interesting (and virtually unknown) fact about these tests? You DON’T have to take them! Police cannot take your license away for refusing SFSTs. Remember that when you take an SFST, you are risking the chance of incriminating yourself and providing police with evidence that can be used against you in court.
When are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Inadmissible?
For the most part, SFSTs are admissible in Colorado courts. However, the tests are unfair to people who have injuries, are overweight or elderly. In some cases, standardized testing may be suppressed in court if you have help from an experienced Denver DUI attorney assisting you and making the right arguments in the right case.
Jay M. Tiftickjian is a Denver DUI attorney experienced in evaluating DUI cases involving SFSTs in Denver, Colorado. As your attorney, Jay will look for places where police did not properly administer the SFST and work to have it thrown out of court. He and his team of defense attorneys will thoroughly analyze your Colorado DUI case for any other flaws in police procedure that could result in having the charges against you lowered, or even dropped. Contact Tiftickjian Law Firm to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer in Denver about your case today.