Driving while intoxicated is probably one of the most common criminal charges in Virginia and throughout the country. Every state has a legal alcohol limit for drivers and, if you are over that limit, you may find yourself as the suspect in a DWI stop. In those situations, you are likely to be asked to complete field sobriety tests.
Most of our readers in Virginia probably know the most common field sobriety tests that law enforcement officers implement in DWI stops. For example, there is the so-called walk-and-turn test, in which the suspect is asked to walk a straight line, heel to toe, and then turn and come back along the same line. Another common one is the one-leg test, in which the suspect is asked to balance on only one leg for a certain amount of time. In both of these tests, the law enforcement officer will be observing the suspect for lack of balance and any inability to follow instructions, among other things.
Another common field sobriety test is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test – more likely identifiable to most people as the “watch the tip of my pen as I move it back-and-forth in front of your eyes” test. As the law enforcement officer is conducting this test, the officer is watching for any involuntary jerking in the suspect’s eyeballs, which can be an indication of intoxication.
If you are facing DWI charges in Virginia, the results of any field sobriety tests might be a key piece of evidence in your case. Be sure to evaluate that evidence, just like any other evidence that might be used against you. If there are problems with evidence in a criminal case, a motion to suppress the evidence and get it excluded from consideration might be a possible defense tactic.