Law enforcement officers in Louisiana are actively searching for signals that a driver may be intoxicated behind the wheel. While legitimately intoxicated drivers are a threat to fellow motorists, police officers may pick up on negligible indications that a driver may be impaired, as it is usually a lucrative pursuit for them to file DWI charges. Police may look to weaving in and out of lanes, following a car too closely, or poor judgment of the road and distances to objects, leading to jerky steering or sharp turns as signs that one is impaired. If you are ever pulled over for a DWI in Monroe, it can be helpful to know what you’re getting into.
Field Sobriety Testing
After a DWI stop and just before a chemical test is administered, field sobriety tests are used to estimate your level of intoxication. While these are standard tests, they are not wholly accurate. It may be advisable to politely refuse to take these tests and to decline providing any incriminating evidence until you speak with an attorney.
There are three tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that you may be subjected to upon your DWI stop.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): Nystagmus is a condition in which the eyes jerk involuntarily. This test is designed to test the DWI suspect’s ability to track a moving object with their eyes. To administer this test, police often move a pen or other similar object horizontally across the suspect’s field of vision. They look for any distinct movements the eyes may make as a result of ingesting excessive alcohol.
Walk-and-Turn (WAT): The walk-and-turn test requires the DWI suspect to receive instructions and perform what was asked. The test usually requires the subject to walk in a straight line for nine steps, turn on one foot and return back to the starting point. Police look for signs of failure to determine whether or not a chemical test is in order.
One-Leg Stand (OLS): While not the most scientific test, the one-leg stand is the most basic type of sobriety test. The subject must stand on one leg while raising the other six inches off the ground while counting until the officer tells him that he may put his foot down. Police look to using the arms for balance, swaying, hopping to maintain balance or putting the foot down before the test is complete as signs of failure.
The science behind these tests is questionable. There is no doubt, however, that a DWI/DUI is a serious offense that carries significant penalties if convicted. You have the right to defend yourself against criminal DWI charges in Louisiana. Contact attorney Eric Johnson of John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm for a free consultation by calling (318) 479-0562.