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Charged with a crime after failing field sobriety testing


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Colorado residents who are suspected of driving while impaired will likely be asked to submit to field sobriety testing. These are a series of tests generally meant to check physical ability and concentration — two things impaired drivers tend to be lacking. Those who fail these tests will likely be charged with a crime.

What are the different kinds of fields sobriety tests? There are actually three: the one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the walk and turn. With the one-leg stand, a person is asked to stand still and then raise one leg off the ground. He or she cannot use arms, hop or put the raised foot on the ground to catch his or her balance.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus is done by having the suspect follow a finger, or tip of a pen or pencil, with his or her eyes in back-and-forth and up-and-down movements. When performing these movements, the eyes will jerk involuntarily. When impaired, the jerking motion is supposed to be exaggerated.

Finally, the walk and turn is just what it sounds like. An individual will be asked to walk a straight line, heel to toe, without using arms for balance. When he or she reaches a specific distance, he or she must turn on just one foot, then walk back along the same line in the same manner.

All of these sound easy enough, but the truth is, a number of things can make anyone fail these tests. Field sobriety tests are not entirely accurate, so anyone charged with a crime due to the results of these tests has the right to fight the charges in a Colorado criminal court. An experienced defense attorney can help such individuals take the steps necessary to do just that, with the hope of achieving case dismissals or charge reductions. 

Source: FindLaw, “Field Sobriety Tests“, Jan. 4, 2018

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