A field sobriety test is the first step officers use to determine if a suspected drunk driver is, indeed, impaired.
Recently, east of Milwaukee, a woman allegedly caused 3 separate accidents while driving under the influence. One of the drunk driving accidents caused a mother traveling with her young child to have to swerve into the shoulder, which nonetheless resulted in her vehicle being side swiped by the drunk driver.
The wrong-way drunk driver hit a telephone box some two hours later before crashing head on into another vehicle. Though the occupants were injured, none were injured seriously. The drunk driver faces charges including causing injury by drunken driving. Authorities suspect that she may have struck other objects or cars of which they are not aware.
Following a traffic stop, if a police officer suspects a DUI violation has occurred, the officer will conduct a test, or series of tests, to determine if the driver is impaired. Usually, the officer will begin by conducting a field sobriety test. This involves asking the driver to perform a series of specific tasks that are difficult for a drunk driver to perform. Typically, if the suspect fails the field sobriety test, a blood alcohol concentration test, usually a breathalyzer test, will follow.
Field sobriety tests are usually three-part tests that are endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. The tests are designed to allow the officer to evaluate the suspected drunk driver's balance, physical ability and attention level. An officer will record observations that are made during the field sobriety test which can later be used as evidence in a DUI case.
Field sobriety tests can be the beginning of a difficult process, resulting in a BAC test and possible DUI charges. Because such charges are serious, it is important to understand how these tests are conducted and used.
Source: Today's THV.com, "Daneille Kraus causes 3 DUI crashes in 2 Wisconsin counties," Lindsey Tugman, Oct. 30, 2012