It's Friday night and you have plans to meet a few friends at your favorite Alabama restaurant to kick-off the weekend with good food, conversation and, perhaps, a nice cold beverage or two. As you're driving home later, flashing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror beckon your immediate attention. You're getting pulled over by police.
It's then you recall that you had a beer on tap with your dinner and your blood pressure begins to rise as you safely come to a stop on the side of the road. Although you hope for the best, you've heard stories of people facing criminal charges after only imbibing a single drink or no alcohol at all! When the police officer asks you to step out of your vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, you know it's going to be a long night.
The purpose of field sobriety tests
If a police officer asks you to submit to field sobriety tests, you can be certain he or she suspects you of impaired driving. The following provides a brief explanation of two of these tests and what a particular law enforcement agent may be looking for as you attempt to carry out his or her instructions:
- The walk-and-turn test: If a police officer asks you to take this test, you'll likely have to take approximately nine walking steps while placing the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other foot. When you get to the end of the line, the officer will likely instruct you to turn on one foot and repeat the entire process in the opposite direction. As you do all this, the officer will note your ability (or lack thereof) to walk in a straight line, keep your balance and take the appropriate amount of steps as per instructions.
- The one-leg-stand test: Not only is a police officer gauging your balance ability, but he or she may ask you to count out loud while you are standing on one foot to judge whether you can perform a cognitive and physical task simultaneously.
An officer may also perform other tests that assess your eye movements. The results from any or all of such tests may serve as probable cause to file DUI charges against you. Alabama has some of the toughest drunk driving laws in the nation. If things don't go so well, you can lose your driver's license, your job and even your freedom.
Many Alabama motorists choose to fight against DUI charges, especially if they believe field sobriety tests or chemical test results were faulty in some way. Assistance from an experienced defense attorney often provides the leverage needed in court to challenge a particular portion of evidence or avoid conviction altogether.