When the police suspect that a driver is drunk, they have several investigative techniques available to them. Of course, the initial technique employed during a traffic stop is mere observation – the officer observes the driver’s speech, appearance, smell, and other characteristics that may indicate that he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If these initial observations lead a police officer to believe that the driver may be drunk, he or she will typically request that the driver perform a field sobriety test in order to “test” whether the driver is, in fact, over the legal limit.
The Field Sobriety Test is an Evidence-Gathering Tool
As a driver, it is important to understand that when the police ask you to perform field sobriety testing, they have likely already made the determination that you drunk and plan to arrest you. The “test” is less about deciding whether you are drunk and more about gathering stronger evidence that supports their assertion that you were intoxicated. To understand this, it is helpful to keep in mind that observations regarding bloodshot eyes or an odour of alcohol, while suggestive of intoxication, are not dispositive on the issue and could potentially be refuted by an experienced defence lawyer. On the other hand, if the officer is able to observe the driver attempt to walk a straight line, count while standing on one leg, or make note of the involuntary twitching of eye muscles that occur when a person is intoxicated, they have gathered much stronger evidence of intoxication. For this reason, the field sobriety test is not one that you can typically “pass.” In most cases, by the time that you have been asked to perform it, the officer has already made up his or her mind that you are intoxicated and is simply looking to build a stronger case against you.
There are Often DUI Defences Available
If you have been arrested for DUI in part based on evidence based on field sobriety testing, there may be ways that a lawyer can have that evidence thrown out of court, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case against you. Some of the reasons the results of a field sobriety test may be excluded from evidence include the following:
- The officer who performed the testing lacked the appropriate training to do so
- The officer who performed the testing failed to follow the proper procedures
- The officer who pulled you over stopped you for an impermissible reason
To determine whether evidence can be suppressed in your case, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.
If You Have Been Arrested for Drunk Driving, You Should Speak to a Calgary DUI Defence Lawyer Immediately
A DUI conviction can have a significant and negative impact on your life – often for years after any court-imposed sentence has ended. For this reason, it is important to do everything you can to avoid a conviction or to mitigate the consequences you are facing. To schedule a free consultation with a criminal defence warrior, call our office today at 403-474-4143 or send us an email through our online contact form.