During a traffic stop for the alleged crime of operating a vehicle while under the influence, the police officer may order you to complete a roadside, or "field," sobriety test. The results of this test could be what enable the officer to place you under arrest for OVI.
What you may not realize, however, is that you could fail a roadside test while completely sober. The police officer may give the test incorrectly, or else use a test designed for drivers to fail. You may be able to use test discrepancies to fight against OVI charges in Ohio.
How do roadside OVI tests work?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has many manuals in place to teach law enforcement officers how to properly administer field sobriety tests. The purpose of the test should be to gauge a driver's level of intoxication based on his or her performance. Some of the most common field sobriety tests include the following:
- One-leg stand
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus
These are three standardized roadside testing techniques under the NHTSA. However, some officials use non-standardized tests. These tests may not be scientifically reliable. Yet because the officer is trying to establish probable cause to place you under arrest for OVI, he or she may use unreliable tests to achieve this.
The inaccurate and subjective natures of roadside tests
Many defendants in OVI and driving under the influence cases use the defense that the results of a roadside sobriety test are inaccurate. The nature of these tests makes them difficult to pass - even had you not consumed any alcohol or drugs. They are also highly subjective, with the administering officer in charge of scoring them. For these reasons, Ohio courts may dismiss evidence of OVI based only on someone's performance during a roadside test.
As a driver, you have the right to respectfully decline field sobriety tests. You may request to take a different type of roadside test, such as a Breathalyzer, instead. Refusing a Breathalyzer, however, could result in an automatic driver's license suspension.