If you have a driver’s license you probably know the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%. There are several factors at play; the ultimate question is, were you impaired while driving? The answer to this question starts with how your impairment was tested.
Field sobriety testing gives officers more information
Understand that field sobriety exercises, not breath tests, are the first way a police officer will attempt to evaluate your level of impairment. Many police officers do not have a breath test machine in their vehicles. Therefore, they rely on field sobriety exercises to give them valuable information about you. These exercises include:
- HGN/VGN, which stands for horizontal gaze nystagmus and vertical gaze nystagmus.
- One-leg stand
Law enforcement use these exercises to determine your level of impairment or lack thereof. The results are a portion of the entire process needed to make an arrest. Many people are physically unable to perform the exercises above. If that is the case, then law enforcement should offer additional exercises to you in order dispel their fears of impairment.
Where does the breath test come in?
You can refuse to perform field sobriety exercises. If you are physically unable to perform the exercises above, due to your normal physical condition, the officer should provide you with alternative exercises. However, you may be arrested and taken to the station if you fail to do any of the exercises requested.
The officer will make their decision on the totality of the circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Driving pattern
- First observations
You may be tempted to refuse the field sobriety exercises and just ask for a breath test. In southwest Florida the breath test machine is at the police station, not the place where you initially encountered law enforcement.
What counts as impairment?
The legal BAC limit is a standard measurement applied to every driver. If your BAC is above the legal limit, you are impaired according to the law. That does not mean if you end up taking the breath test and provide a sample of .07% you are legally considered not impaired. Breath test results are one metric by which impairment is judged.
The bottom line is, DUIs are complicated. If you are arrested for one, it’s best to contact attorney Lee Viacava. At our firm, we handle DUI cases on a regular basis and Attorney Lee Viacava will know what to do and how to address the situation.