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Sobriety Tests

If you are pulled over for the suspicion of DUI or for another traffic violation, you do not have the option of choosing the type of test you will take.  You will take a Breath Test on-the-spot or at the police station, or you will be cited with a misdemeanor and face other Virginia DMV suspensions and penalties.  Furthermore, your refusal can incriminate you in the eyes of a Judge.

  • The first type of test to determine your BAC level is a Breath Test.  You will be asked to blow into a small apparatus that will record the amount of alcohol in your blood.  Typically, you are required to give 2 samples using a Breath Test.  The Breath Test is the test of choice.
  • The next type of test to determine your BAC level is a Blood Test.  You will be asked to provide only one sample of your blood.
  • Finally, if there is a suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, you may be subjected to a Urine Test. 

Each of the aforementioned tests has its flaws and can be disputed in court by an experienced attorney.  While you cannot refuse a sobriety test or request to speak to a lawyer before one is given, your rights will still be protected after-the-fact if human or mechanical error prevents law enforcement officials from obtaining an accurate reading.

Finally, field sobriety tests are, actually, optional and a driver can refuse to take them.  Field sobriety tests include the ‘touch your nose with your finder’ and ‘balance yourself on one leg’ agility exercises, and they are typically used to give the officer an indication of whether or not you are impaired.  Because these tests are difficult to perform for a large population of people, they are not deemed reliable.  Many sober people have difficulty during this test because of poor coordination, poor balance, poor musculoskeletal control, and more.  On the other hand, a driver who is under the influence might perform these agility exercises fairly well!  Therefore, field sobriety tests are not a good indication of your current state of sobriety.


How is Law Enforcement ‘Tipped-Off’ to a Possible DUI/DWI

There are several behaviors that will lead an officer to believe that you are a possible DUI driver.  First of all, there are distinguishable driving patterns and driving behaviors that are indicative of driving under the influence of alcohol:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic/other cars
  • Lane straddling or the inability to keep your vehicle within one lane in its entirety
  • Erratic driving or making rash decisions behind the wheel

Second of all, your appearance and general demeanor are tell-tale signs.  If you are unkempt, speaking with a slur, have bloodshot eyes, are stumbling, fumbling or having trouble locating identification and/or you smell like alcohol, you are likely going to be taking field sobriety.  Again, while field sobriety tests are not true indicators of intoxication, the officer can use them to enforce his suspicion that you are, indeed, driving under the influence.  

Finally, the officer will simply talk to you and there is a good chance that you will incriminate yourself.  Again, slurred or heavy speech is a good indication of intoxication, but you might offer information that adds fuel to the fire.  Your Miranda Rights do not have to be read to you until after you are arrested; therefore, telling the officer that you kept track of how much you drank by putting the beer labels in your front seat will likely incriminate you in court.  An officer knows this and will engage you in conversation in an attempt to obtain information to support his suspicions.  All of the above indicators and behaviors will culminate in a Breath or Blood test and your likely arrest.

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