An officer who believes that you are driving on a California road or highway while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may conduct a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, you may be asked to take a series of tests designed to confirm or negate that belief. Depending on your performance on these tests, you may be taken into custody and charged with DUI.
Field sobriety tests are typically performed first
Field sobriety tests help an officer assess your mental and physical condition at the time of a traffic stop. You will usually be asked to spend time on one foot to assess your ability to stay upright.
You may also be asked to take a series of steps, turn around and walk back to where the test began. This will generally help an officer determine your ability to stay upright or follow directions. Finally, you will likely be asked to follow the path of either the officer’s finger or a beam of light with your eyes which may reveal a flutter in your eyes called nystagmus.
A blood or Breathalyzer test may also be performed
A blood or Breathalyzer test can provide an objective measure of how much alcohol is in your system. If you have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, you are considered to be legally drunk. These tests may be conducted at the scene of a traffic stop or at a police station, however the preliminary alcohol screening breath test or PAS test is not required to be taken at the scene and law enforcement is required to advise of this fact.
The penalties for a DUI conviction may include jail time, a fine or the loss of your drivers’ license. Penalties in your current case may be enhanced if you have been convicted of DUI in the past or if you refuse to take a chemical test
A DUI charge is considered to be a criminal offense, which means that you will likely want a criminal law attorney helping with your case. An attorney may be able to cast doubt on the results of a field sobriety or chemical test in an effort to obtain a favorable outcome in your case.