Visual Clues

Tempe Lawyers for DUI Defense Involving Field Sobriety Tests

There are numerous visual clues of inebriation to which an officer who pulled you over may be able to point in the event that DUI charges are brought against you. Often, because they are not looking at themselves while performing a field sobriety test, drivers charged with DUI do not realize that they are exhibiting signs of inebriation. These signs can be an important part of the state’s case. If you are concerned about what visual clues of inebriation may be part of an officer’s testimony, you should consult the seasoned Phoenix field sobriety test attorney James E. Novak.

Defense Lawyer to Counter Visual Clues of Inebriation

DUI stops are often initiated because a police officer sees a driver behaving in a way that suggests he is intoxicated or under the influence of a prohibited substance. These signs can include swerving, tailgating, speeding, driving too slow, driving with your headlights off, erratic behavior on the road, sudden stops, turning without putting on the turn signal or otherwise acting dangerously. An officer must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior in order to pull you over at all. If he doesn’t have a reasonable suspicion, we may be able to get all evidence obtained during the stop suppressed. This can gut a prosecutor’s case.

Once he pulls you over, an officer will be looking for signs of criminal misconduct, such as driving under the influence. Among other things, he will be studying your appearance and behavior to see whether any of them raise a red flag. If he spots certain visual clues, he may take further steps to investigate such as asking you to step outside the car to take a field sobriety test.

Visual Clues During a Field Sobriety Test

Visual clues of inebriation that an officer in Phoenix may consider when administering a field sobriety test can include any of the following:

  • The angle at which your eye involuntarily jerks during a horizontal gaze nystagmus, as well as lack of smooth pursuit, maximum of deviation, angle of onset before 45 degrees.
  • Falling when outside the vehicle doing a field sobriety test such as the one-leg stand or walk-and-turn.
  • Missing the number of steps in the walk and turn, turning improperly, stepping off line, or using your arms to stay balanced.
  • Swaying or hopping and putting your foot down.
  • Stumbling when getting out of the car to do field sobriety tests.
  • Lack of coordination.

There are also audio clues, such as slurred speech, incoherent speech, or slow responses to basic questions, and odor clues, such as the smell of alcohol, which could be more readily apparent during a field sobriety test.

Any of these signs could go towards establishing the probable cause required to arrest you.

Improper Administration or Lack of Credibility

There are situations in which we may try to prove that the field sobriety test was improperly administered. In some cases, our attorneys can show that an officer’s testimony is not credible or contains inconsistencies. Sometimes there are multiple holes in the state’s account, which helps your case. For instance, if the report says you were falling over during the walk-and-turn and were utterly incoherent, but the officer who created the report testifies that you gave a long speech about coming from a bar and drinking while performing the walk-and-turn, there may be a potential inconsistency that can point to his lack of credibility or outright lie in connection with why he believed he had probable cause to arrest you, and this may be revealed in a cross-examination.

Raising Reasonable Doubt About Drunk Driving in Phoenix

In addition to pursuing a motion to suppress evidence of the stop, we may be able to raise reasonable doubt about whether you were driving under the influence at all. Sometimes the visual clues used to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest for drunk driving can be explained by other circumstances. For instance, if you have multiple sclerosis, you may walk unsteadily or have memory issues even when entirely sober. Certain medications for other illnesses may cause you to fumble or have poor motor coordination.

Retain a Tempe Criminal Defense Lawyer

Visual clues of inebriation may be a critical component of the government’s case. A Phoenix prosecutor must establish the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there may be ways to poke holes in the prosecutor’s understanding of the case. It may be appropriate to pursue a plea deal. Or your case may be strong enough to pursue defenses in court. James E. Novak may be able to represent you. He represents those accused in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at undefined or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.