What Police Observe Before and During a DUI Investigation

Reasonable Suspicion

An officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a driver and to initiate a DUI investigation. Usually, the reasonable suspicion arises when the police officer observes certain behavior listed below:
• Speeding
• Extremely slow driving
• Weaving
• Failure to yield
• Drifting
• Turning with a wide radius
• Stopping too far or too short
• Accelerating for no reason
• Varying speed
• Slow response to traffic signals
• Stopping in the lane for no apparent reason

The Initial Face-To-Face Interaction

Once the driver is stopped, the police will begin his investigation and observe your appearance and the manner in which you provide him information. Examples of what police observe include:
• Odors of alcohol
• Bloodshot eyes
• Watery eyes
• Difficulty with motor vehicle controls
• Fumbling with driver’s license or registration
• Slurred speech

The Field Sobriety Test

There are several field sobriety tests that police can use when detaining a driver suspected of DUI. The most common are the one-leg stand test, walk-and-turn test, and the HGN (eye) test.

One-Leg Stand Test

Police StopThe one-leg stand test is administered in two stages: instruction and performance. During the instruction stage, the officer will provide verbal instructions on performing the test as well as demonstration. The officer will then ask if you understand the instructions before proceeding to the next phase.
During the instruction phase, you will raise one leg with your foot parallel and approximately six inches off of the ground. With your hands to the side, you will count in thousands while looking at your foot until instructed to stop.
If the officer observes two or more of the following, you fail and can be arrested for drunk driving:
• Swaying
• Using arms for balance
• Hopping or putting your foot down

Walk-And-Turn Test

The walk-and-turn test is also divided into two stages: instruction and performance. The officer will ask you to stand heel to toe with your arms at the side while he explains and demonstrates how the test should be performed. The officer will then ask if you understood.

To perform the test, you will take nine heel-to-toe steps forward on a real or imaginary line, pivot, and take nine steps back. During this, you will keep your arms to the side, watch your feet and count the steps aloud.

If the officer observes any of the following, you fail and can be arrested for drunk driving:

• Failure to keep balance
• Failure to walk heel to toe
• Stepping off the line
• Using arms for balance
• Turning incorrectly
• Taking incorrect number of steps

HGN (eye) Test

Before administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer will evaluate your eyes to look for resting nystagmus, equal pupil size, and equal tracking. The officer will hold a small object about 12 to 15 inches from your nose and slowly move it from one side to the other. You will follow the object with your eyes while keeping your head still.

If the officer observes any of the following, you fail and can be arrested for drunk driving:

• Eyes jerking or bouncing
• Equal pupil size
• Both eyes fail to follow the object together
• Eyes begin jerking within four seconds while looking all the way to the side

Call Ariano & Reppucci

Fortunately, these tests can be challenged. For example, certain individuals should never be asked to perform the one-leg stand test – those over 65 years old, more than 50 pounds overweight, or those who have ear, leg, or back problems. The walk-and-turn test has only a 66% accuracy rate. Lastly, some people have neurological, medical, and eye conditions that could cause the jerking or bouncing of the eyes during the test. Call the Phoenix DUI lawyers at Ariano & Reppucci now for a consultation.