Seeing flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror may have you immediately feeling anxious. If the stop comes after you had a few drinks with your friends, you may have even more reason to feel as if the situation will not turn out in your best interests. You may not feel as if those drinks impaired your driving abilities, but the officer will certainly investigate to determine whether he or she believes that is the case.
One common investigative tool that Maryland officers use during a possible DUI traffic stop is standard field sobriety tests. Typically, officers will have drivers perform certain actions to check their balance, coordination and eye movement. However, it is important to remember that officers use these tests in efforts to gather evidence and obtain probable cause for taking a driver into custody. You will also want to remember that you do not have a legal obligation to participate in field sobriety tests.
What if you performed the tests?
Like many people, you may not have known that you did not have a legal obligation to perform the tests. As a result, an officer may have had you walk and turn, stand on one leg or follow an object with just your eyes. If the situation resulted in your arrest and a charge for DUI, you will want to determine whether any of the following factors applied to your situation:
- Did the officer have you perform the tests in an unsafe area, like on a hill, in a curve or on a bridge?
- Was there minimal lighting in the area that affected your or the officer's ability to see?
- Did you perform the tests on an uneven surface, like gravel, dirt or a sloping road?
- Was there heavy rain, wind, snow or other weather hazards that made completing the tests more difficult?
- Did the officer take you to a different location to conduct the tests?
Any of these factors could have an impact on how effective the field sobriety tests were and on the supposed evidence they provided the officer.
How could this affect your case?
If the officer did not follow proper procedure or violated your rights while conducting the field sobriety tests, that information could result in a reduction or even a dismissal of charges. Of course, each case is different, and discussing the details of your traffic stop and subsequent DUI charge with a criminal defense attorney may work in your favor.