What Happens When Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DUI?
To stop a driver initially, the officer needs to have what they call “reasonable suspicion,” and that’s a fairly low threshold. They can’t stop you for no reason whatsoever. They have to have some suspicion and that has to be within reason. Reasonable could be just a little weaving or driving too slow. It doesn’t have to be much just to make the stop. Once the stop has been made then they have a new standard to meet before they can make an arrest and that’s the “probable cause” standard and that’s still a relatively low threshold. The officer has to reasonably believe that a crime has been committed. You could say that’s much lower than the standard for a conviction. If the officer believes that a crime has probably been committed then they can choose to arrest the person and that’s usually verified with the field sobriety test.
Is It Mandatory To Perform The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests? Are They Admissible In Court?
You can refuse to take the tests, but I have rarely seen refusal to take the test result in the officer not making the arrest. Most people do choose to proceed with the tests. It can sometimes give us something to work with if you’ve passed them.
The first standardized test in Nevada is the walk and turn, which is also sometimes called the beam test. It’s like walking on a beam and then you turn around and walk back. These tests are actually kind of difficult to do even when sober. The second one is the one legged stand which is where you would stand on one foot or use your arms for balance and then raise the other leg. They’re looking for something called “clues of impairment.” Wobbling or falling over or not following instructions properly are clues of impairment.
The third test used in Nevada is called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. They understand this as a jitter in the eyes that an impaired person cannot control. If there’s a mistake or a shaking of the eyes before you even move then that can indicate severe impairment. They’re going to move the finger or pin from side to side and see whether or not you’re smoothly tracking the object and then at forty-five degrees or more. There’s very often a jittering of the eyes that you can’t control. Again, they’re looking for your ability to follow instructions – not to move your head, only to move your eyes, whether or not you have that eye jitter. Those are the standardized tests.
The roadside breath test is a preliminary test. It’s a roadside Breathalyzer unit that can detect your blood alcohol level. It’s not as sophisticated a machine as the one they’ll use at the station and that they’ll admit as evidence. The roadside test can definitely be used to establish probable cause to go forward with arresting the individual, but they’re not generally considered accurate enough for evidentiary purposes in court later on. So if you are arrested then you’re going to go down to the station and then they’re going to move on to either a more formal breath test or in some circumstances a blood test.
What Happens If I Refuse The Breath And Blood Tests At The Station?
Most people don’t know this but when you get your driver’s license, you’re implying consent to these tests. If you refuse then they will suspend your driver’s license for one year regardless of guilt or innocence in the case. A lot of times officers are nice about that and read a standardized warning and let people know that there is implied consent to these tests by virtue of driving on Nevada roads. Some officers will let you refuse, knowing that that’s going to result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Ultimately what they’ll do if you refuse is they will call a judge, even at 2:00 in the morning, and make a sworn statement that they believe that you’re intoxicated and have the warrant issued to draw blood and then they will end up doing it anyway.
By the time people come to me this process is usually done for better or worse. You can refuse the tests but it’s not going to stop the process and it will result in a suspension of your driver’s license. I tell people that you can refuse the field sobriety tests. You have the right not to admit that you were drinking or using any other substances. We have the right to not incriminate ourselves. However, once they’ve arrested you, you pretty much have to give them the tests they’re asking for down at the station.
For more information on Being Suspected Of A DUI In Nevada, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (702) 899-8989 today.
Call Now For A Consultation