Field Sobriety Tests
In Denver, Colorado, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are colloquially termed “roadside maneuvers” or “roadside tests”. They are generally a component of evidence in every DWAI or DUI case.
Do remember that “standardized” in this case means that the series of tests must be executed in an identical manner in every case – so that the results generate sufficient impairment evidence or a lack of it.
Similar to any complex testing procedure, the police officer who makes you perform the tests may make mistakes at the time of enforcing the tests. To give an example, there is no legal basis on the officer ordering you to do a one-leg stand for about 30 seconds.
Remember that you can refuse field sobriety tests. You will not lose your Colorado driver’s license solely for refusing the field sobriety tests.
In Colorado, drivers are asked to take three different kinds of sobriety tests:
- Walk and Turn test
- One Leg Stand test
- Eye test or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)
Walk and Turn
In this maneuver, you will be asked to take nine steps, from the heel to toe, and you will have to do it along a straight line. After that, you will be required, to turn and return to your original position in opposite direction, but on one foot. The police officer will search for certain impairment signs: if it is not possible for you to keep your balance while you listen to the instructions, if you start before the officer finishes the instruction, if you stop to regain your balance while walking, if you do not touch your heel to your toe, if you step off line, if you use your arms to keep a balance and so on.
One Leg Stand
You will be ordered to stand on one foot with the other about six inches above the ground. You will also be asked to count aloud from one thousand one (1,001) to one thousand thirty (1,030) in order to estimate the passage of thirty (30) seconds. However, the procedures require an officer to instruct a person to count rapidly and instructions do not say to estimate thirty (30) seconds.
The officer will closely look at your eye as you observe a slow moving object like a flashlight or a pen, horizontally with your eyes. If you are impaired by alcohol, your eye jerking will be exaggerated and could occur at much lesser angles. However, a certain percentage of the population will show signs of eye jerking and impaired balance without any alcohol in their system.
According to the NHTSA, the combination of all the three tests provides the overall efficiency to identifying BACs over .08 percent.
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