Colorado Roadside Tests: What to Expect
After being pulled over, you will likely experience an explosion of nerves. What did you do wrong? Will you get a ticket? Even worse, will you get arrested?
Well, if you have been pulled over for a potential DUI, then knowing the kinds of roadside tests you will be expected to perform may help you calm those nerves and pass those tests. However, you should also know which tests you can refuse to take by law.
The walk-and-turn test can take on many forms, which will depend on the police department you are pulled over by. That being said, they all follow the same basic structure. You will be asked to walk a straight line, heel to toe, then turn around, and walk another straight line, again heel to toe, back to the officer. Alcohol impacts the brain’s spatial awareness, motor control, and balance. A drunk person would typically be unable to walk a straight line or turn around without at least wobbling, if not falling down.
You would fail the test if you were unable to keep your feet heel-to-toe as you walked, started too soon or too late, stumbled during the walk or during the turn, or took more or fewer steps than instructed. This is a fairly easy test to pass if you are sober; however, nerves can impede your ability to follow instructions, which may lead to an unfair arrest. This is a field sobriety test that you can refuse to take.
The one-leg stand test is exactly what it sounds like: if the officer believes you are driving under the influence, he or she may ask you to stand on one leg, hold still, and count to a specified number, all while looking down at your foot. Similar to the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand is meant to test your ability to remain balanced, listen to instructions, and keep control over your body.
Of course, not everyone is able-bodied enough to stand on one leg for an extended period of time. Even people who are able to drive independently may have a limited ability to go through with this specific test. Even when informed of this, the officer may try to force you to follow through with the test, or up the ante and ask you to perform chemical tests. This is a field sobriety test that you can refuse to take.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) is when your eyes involuntarily move around due to the consumption of alcohol. This movement can be described a small and fast jerking motion, and is apparent when you move your eyes from side to side. In order to test HGN, an officer will ask you to follow the movement of a pen or finger with your eyes. While you do, he or she will watch the movement of your eyes, and try to detect any signs of HGN. If the officer detects the jerking movement, it could result in a DUI arrest, or further roadside tests to confirm the officer’s suspicions. This is a field sobriety test that you can refuse to take.
Refusing a Chemical Test
There are other roadside tests you may be asked to perform; however, the three above are considered the standard tests. This means that if you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, you will most likely be asked to go through with at least one of the three tests above. You may not want to perform any of these tests, however. That is your right. You may refuse a roadside test, such as the ones we have laid out for you. However, you may not refuse a chemical test.
Chemical tests, such as breathalyzers and blood tests, are protected under Colorado’s expressed consent laws. If you have a driver’s license, that means you are legally obligated to take them. If you refuse, then you will face harsh penalties. The penalties become steeper the more times you refuse, and you may end up facing a three-year license suspension. We always recommend that people accused of DUIs follow through with the chemical tests. Even if they indicate that your blood alcohol content is over the legal limit, these tests can be faulty, and with a good lawyer, you may avoid a conviction.
However, your chances of an acquittal go down the longer you wait to contact an attorney. We at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., have helped countless clients arrested DUI’s, both in criminal trials and in DMV hearings. As DUI experts, we can help you get the best possible outcome. Call us at (719) 475-2555 to start your free consultation.