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3 things you can likely expect during a suspected drunk driving stop

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Police officers can initiate a traffic stop for a variety of reasons. For example, a suspicion of drunk driving is a common reason to pull motorists over. If a police officer sees you do something while you’re driving that makes them believe you’re impaired, they’ll likely pull you over accordingly.

Knowing what to expect if you’re stopped because an officer believes you’re drunk may help you to remain (relatively) calm. These three things are likely to occur during a drunk driving stop.

An interview

One of the first things that an officer is likely going to do is speak to you. They’ll ask questions to determine what’s going on. Remember, you have specific rights, including the right to avoid self-incrimination, during this process. While the officer is speaking to you, they’re also using their senses to help them. They may sniff your breath while you’re speaking to determine if there’s alcohol present. They may look for open containers in the vehicle.

A field sobriety test

The officer may ask you to go through a series of field sobriety tests. There are many different tests they may conduct, but there are only three that are part of the standardized field sobriety test (SFST) that’s endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The three components of the SFST are the horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand and walk-and-turn. These test a variety of concerns, such balance and ability to multitask, that will likely be affected by impairment.

A preliminary alcohol screening test

Another option the officer may exercise is asking you to take a breath test. A roadside test is done using the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. If this test produces a result that shows impairment, you’ll be asked to retake the test on the stationary device that’s considered more reliable and accurate.

You may refuse to take a breath test, but refusal isn’t without a risk of penalties. Because of the state’s implied consent law, you may face a driver’s license suspension if you refuse.

If the officer has probable cause showing you’re impaired, they can arrest you. Each one of these components of a drunk driving stop can potentially inform your defense strategy. Discussing what happened during the traffic stop with your legal representative is important, and should be done as quickly as possible.