Experience. Results. Compassion.

Colorado, field sobriety tests and DUI

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When a Colorado police officer pulls you over and asks you to step out of your vehicle, it likely means you’re suspected of intoxication. If a law enforcement officer orders you out of your vehicle during a traffic stop, you must comply. If the officer then asks you to take one or more field sobriety tests, you may refuse, or you can take the tests; the choice is yours. If you take a test and fail, it constitutes probable cause for a DUI arrest.

Not taking field sobriety tests does not guarantee that you won’t end up in custody for DUI. There are other ways to establish probable cause. If a police officer asks you to take one of these tests, it will probably be a walk-and-turn, one-leg stance or horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

A DUI arrest often occurs after these field sobriety tests

Here’s a basic overview of the three field sobriety tests mentioned in the previous section:

  • Walk-and-turn: The officer administering this test will instruct you to walk a straight line with arms outstretched, placing the heel of one of your feet at the toes of the other with every step.
  • One-leg stance: To perform this test, you will stand on one leg with arms relaxed at your sides and head tilted upward. The officer may instruct you to stay in this position for 30 seconds and may also tell you to count out loud or recite the alphabet while doing so.
  • HGN: When you take an HGN test, you must track an object with your eyes without moving your head. The officer monitors your eyeballs to check for erratic shaking before reaching maximum peripheral vision.

Remember that the officer will infuse opinion into your test score. Field sobriety tests have a high rate of inaccuracy for numerous reasons. For example, you might have a past injury that impedes your ability to balance on one leg or an eye condition that causes your eyeballs to shake. If you stumble or your eyes shake, the officer may issue a failing score and arrest you for suspected DUI.

Arrest doesn’t always lead to conviction

If a Colorado police officer takes you into custody for suspected DUI, try to remain calm. Be aware of your rights and know where to seek support for help in defending them. Sometimes, the outcome of a case isn’t as bad as you feared it might be, especially if issues arise in your favor, such as taking a Breathalyzer and passing it or challenging evidence gathered during an unlawful search.