How Virginia Cops Detect and Detain Suspected Drunk Drivers

If you drive drunk and get pulled over, police will know. Law enforcement agents are specially trained to identify intoxicated drivers. When a police officer first stops your vehicle, they rely on three factors to determine if you should step out of your vehicle for further analysis:

  • Visual —Once at the driver’s side window, the police officer will closely observe you (the driver), the console, and the passenger seat for any signs of alcohol or an open container. They invariably will claim that your eyes were red or bloodshot and glossy.  Many times they will claim that you appeared “disheveled”.
  • Audible — Next, the officer will ask you a series of questions —  Do you know why I pulled you over? How much have you had to drink this evening? Can I see your license, insurance, and registration? Where are you coming from or going to? NOTE:  YOU ARE UNDER NO LEGAL OBLIGATION TO ANSWER ANY OF THEIR QUESTIONS.  Each time you speak to answer a question, the officer will listen carefully for impaired speech or slurred words. Politely refuse to provide any answers, e.g., “Officer, I would rather not discuss my evening with you but thank you for asking.”
  • Smell — Lastly, the officer will look for any scent of alcohol emanating from you or your vehicle. The same questions used to test your speech are also used to detect alcohol on your breath. The less you say, the better off you will be.

If you appear, sound, and smell sober, police may allow you to drive away without the need for further tests.

Field sobriety test

If you fail the visual, audible, or smell tests, police may ask you to step out of your vehicle and take the field sobriety test:

  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN)Here, the officer will ask you to follow their finger or flashlight to determine if you are intoxicated based on three factors: 1) your eye cannot follow the moving object in a smooth fashion, 2) eye jerking is sustained, and 3) eye jerking starts before the eye is 45 degrees of center.
  2. Walk and turn test — In this test, you must take nine steps in a heel-to-toe fashion, turn and return to the officer. Depending on your balance and ability to complete this simple task, the officer may determine that you are over the limit.  Even police officers have admitted in court that, during their own training, they were unable to perform this test without difficulty – SOBER!  DO NOT AGREE TO ANY FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS.
  3. One leg-stand test — For the final test, you must stand on one leg with the other leg 6 inches off the floor and count, starting with 1,000.

You may also be asked to take a breathalyzer or blood test to determine your level of intoxication.

KNOW THIS:  A police officer can (and will) make your life difficult for 24 hours.  If you refuse to take his tests and limit your conversation, you may still get arrested.  HOWEVER, being arrested does not mean being convicted of DUI.  Without any evidence to support his arrest, and with Eric Clingan and The NoVa Law Firm on your side, an eventual acquittal is well within reach.

Seasoned DUI defense lawyer upholds your rights

Located in Fairfax, the Nova Law Firm, is proud to help Virginians fight unfair DUI charges. You can schedule a consultation to discuss your case with an experienced Fairfax DUI defense lawyer by calling (703) 352-9347 or contacting us online.

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About the Author: Eric Clingan

About the Author: Eric Clingan

Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations

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