WHY IS THE OFFICER ASKING ME IF I’VE BEEN DRINKING DURING MY TRAFFIC STOP?

During a traffic stop in the State of Virginia an officer will observe driver for signs of drinking and driving. If the officer suspects a driver of drinking and driving, he will observe actions by the driver such as:

  • Difficulty with motor vehicle controls
  • Hard time getting out of the vehicle
  • Fumbling with driver’s license or registration
  • Repeating questions or comments
  • Leaning on the vehicle or other object
  • Slurred, slow or fast speech
  • Slow to answer officer
  • Gives incorrect information or changes answers

If the officer sees any of these signs, the officer may ask a driver to perform field sobriety tests to judge if a person is impaired while driving. Typical field sobriety tests in the State of Virginia include:

  • An officer will ask driver to stand on one foot at a time. Officer will be looking for swaying, hopping, putting the foot down, body shakes or muscle tension.
  • An officer places a pen, 12 inches away from the driver’s face, and moves the object side to side while watching the driver’s eyes. The officer is looking for involuntary jerking or trembling of the driver’s eyes.
  • In The Rhomberg Balance test the driver is asked to tilt his or her head back, close his/her eyes and count 30 seconds silently. An officer looks for the inability to stand steady, opening eyes to maintain balance, swaying or muscle tension.
  • In a walk and turn the driver takes “heel-to-toe” steps in line then turns and takes the same number of “heel-to-toe” steps back. An officer is checking whether the individual can balance, follow instructions, start and stop when told.
  • The finger to nose test requires an individual to close one’s eyes, stand straight with feet together and touch index finger to nose. The officer is looking for swaying or tremors, eyelid tremors or muscle tension.

Other field sobriety tests in the State of Virginia include walk in a straight line, touch each finger, one after the other, to thumb, count backwards or recite or sing the alphabet.

An officer is also trained to look for:

  • Blood shot eyes. This may indicate heavy drinking by a driver.
  • Smell of alcohol. The officer is trained to smell to identify the odor of alcohol on a driver’s breath or clothes to determine if a person is drinking and driving.
  • Open containers of alcohol. An officer will also look for open container of alcohol.

If contents in a container have been partially removed, an officer may charge the driver with drinking and driving.

When these signs are present, an officer will perform a breathalyzer. Drivers who fail the breathalyzer test will be arrested for DUI. It is illegal in the State of Virginia to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. The .08 percent limit is the benchmark for the “impaired” driver throughout the United States. In the State of Virginia, the BAC limit is lower for commercial drivers (.04) and drivers under the age of 21 (.02). Additionally, refusal to a chemical test can lead to license suspension and arrest.

A DUI arrest is not a conviction

For most drivers, a traffic stop is a minor inconvenience and a ticket, but for those drivers who were drinking while driving, it may lead to a license suspension, car impoundment and even an arrest. If you are facing a DUI charge in Virginia, Damon will help protect your rights during your DUI case with an aggressive DUI defense strategy. Call today for a FREE analysis of your case at 866-994-1455.

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