If you are driving along a Colorado highway and a police officer pulls you over, you may immediately feel a bit nervous. It seems to be an automatic reaction when red and blue lights flash in a rear view mirror. Just knowing that in a few moments a police officer is going to approach your vehicle may be enough to make you terribly anxious or even afraid. In many situations, an officer may simply issue you some type of warning and tell you that you are free to go.
If, on the other hand, the officer asks you to step out of your car, consider yourself detained. What happens next may determine your future, especially if you had anything to drink in the recent past that contained alcohol. When a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, he or she may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests.
Prepare for FSTs by knowing what to expect
Police officers can use several types of tests to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving. If a police officer stopped you to begin with because your vehicle veered over the yellow line or you seemed to be braking at inappropriate moments, you may already have a strike against you. What you do and say next may be key in avoiding a conviction if you end up facing DUI charges. The following list explains what is likely to occur with each type of FST:
- One-leg stand test: To check your balance and your ability to follow simple instructions, a police officer might ask you to stand on one foot while counting the seconds out loud. If you sway back and forth or appear confused in any way, he or she may think you are intoxicated.
- Walk-and-turn test: Did you ever stack books on your head and try to balance them there while walking around a room as a child? This test may feel similar to that. If a police officer thinks you have been drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel to drive, he or she may ask you to walk a straight line with arms outstretched while placing the heel of one foot at the tips of the toes on the other. You may even have to turn around and repeat the entire process in the opposite direction.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test: You may have seen actors playing police officers in movies holding up their little pen flashlights and asking people to track the objects from side to side, using their eyes and not their heads. In real life, this is a test to gauge whether you exhibit erratic eye movements common among intoxicated people.
You do not have to take FSTs upon request. There is no administrative penalty for refusal. However, if you refuse a Breathalyzer, you may face an automatic driver's license suspension.
How to quickly obtain support when needed
Many Colorado motorists who find themselves under suspicion for DUI ask to speak with criminal defense attorneys as soon as police instruct them to step out of their vehicles. In addition to helping you find the best possible resolution to any charges you may face, an attorney can also challenge any evidence that may have been procured in violation of your rights.