4 DUI Tests Arizona Law Enforcement May Use in Traffic Stops

Interested in learning what tests are commonly used when drivers are pulled over at sobriety checkpoints, or pulled over in general? Check out these four popular tests.

The Infamous Breathalyzer

dui testWithout taking this exceedingly technical, the instrument is designed to pick up gases emitted by those intoxicated, mix them with a scientific formula, and spit out a specific percentage which must meet or drop below the legal limit for Arizona motorists, currently .08%.  Anything rising above the legal limit is immediate grounds for arrest, although many times police officers prefer to use all possible tests to strengthen their case instead of relying upon one’s breath.

According to Arizona law, penalties stiffen when the BAC reaches “Extreme” level, which is .15% and above. Failing to allow an officer to administer this test will result, more than likely, in immediate detainment until they’ve either grabbed your cooperation, or you follow the remaining tests fully.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Should an officer not have suitable Breathalyzer equipment in their cruiser, a series of visual and physical acuity tests are performed which, most times, are equivocally accurate in building DUI cases against motorists.  The first of these tests is the Nystagmus, or horizontal gaze test (people associate ‘following the finger’ with this test).  Officers use either their finger or a small flashlight held 12-15” away from your eyes, searching for involuntary movements commonly found within intoxicated eyes.

Since the reliability of this testing is well below 75%, defense attorneys commonly attack this test, with success, and often have this portion of Field Sobriety testing inadmissible in court due to numerous abnormalities which occur during testing, macular conditions in motorists or other conditions which cause twitching.  Whether you’ve passed or failed the eye test is moot since the officer will now begin the more physical testing phase.

One Leg Stand

Commonly used to test balance, an officer will often instruct motorists suspected of being intoxicated to stand on one leg, with risen leg bent at the knee.  It’s also regular for officers to ask people to count to ten, recite their ABC’s backwards, forwards or skipping every other letter.  The goal is checking one’s ability to maintain balance without thinking about it, one major reason officers throw in counting.

Upon passing or failing, patrolmen can decipher whether your balance is normal, or slightly off, and determine if an arrest is plausible given the situation.  One leg stands could find the motorist alternating legs, too, depending on patrol officer.

Walk and Turn

An officer’s surefire way to get motorists to crack under pressure is the infamous walk and turn test, what many people coined ‘walking the line’.  You’ll simply put one foot in front of the other, walking straight without veering off the line.  Once you’ve reached the instructed destination, you’ll then walk back to the testing officer.

Used to gauge balance and amount of energy being exerted to concentrate on leg movements, it’s the classic test which ultimate becomes the arrest, and the motorists’ requiem to legal problems.

Romberg Balance Test

Another test available to patrolmen involves inculcating alleged drunk motorists to stand up straight, close their eyes, tilt their head back, and main that position for roughly thirty (30) seconds. Patrolmen look for inability to maintain balance, obvious struggle or anything which signifies you’ve had enough alcohol to thwart your judgment.  Drug Recognition Experts have used this tool frequently when lacking clarity throughout other field tests, and many times this test proves helpful.

If motorists are physically impaired or have taken prescription narcotics, this test would prove inadmissible in court due to lacking significant merit when gauging intoxication in drug patients, or lacking general usage acceptance within the public.

Fighting Tests

Obviously the attorney you retain will fight the veracity of DUI tests. This is automatic when fighting your first, fifth or ninetieth DUI arrest.

You’d be surprised at the number of technical violations an attorney can conjure up, use in your defense, and possibly get charges dismissed.

Click here to find out how much a DUI costs in Arizona.