Society has an interest in keeping intoxicated drivers off of the roads of Pennsylvania. As a result, law enforcement officers follow specific guidelines for identifying DUI suspects and then conducting field sobriety tests.
Reasons to initiate a traffic stop
Patrol officers watch for traffic violations that may indicate intoxicated drivers. If you are driving too fast or slow compared to the posted speed limit or having trouble staying in a lane, a police officer could suspect that you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Upon seeing you driving in an erratic manner, an officer will have witnessed an initial cause that justifies pulling you over.
Field sobriety testing
Once you stop your vehicle, the officer will look at you for signs of intoxication. The smell of alcohol on your breath or in the vehicle could prompt an officer to start your field sobriety test. After you get out of the vehicle, the officer will likely ask you to walk a straight line in a heel-to-toe manner or stand on one leg while raising the other leg. The officer might consider any signs of poor balance or lack of coordination as evidence of intoxication. You may also undergo the horizontal gaze nystagmus test when the officer shines a light in your eyes. Drunkenness affects your eye muscle control, and the officer will evaluate your response. Failure of a field sobriety test provides cause to arrest you on suspicion of DUI.
Blood alcohol concentration testing
Law enforcement will seek to confirm the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system with a blood or breath test. This testing may occur at the police station prior to your booking into jail.
Consequences of conviction
An arrest on suspicion of DUI is upsetting, and a subsequent conviction could result in loss of your driver’s license, high fines and possibly jail time. Due to the potential for harsh penalties, people in this position often explore their options with a criminal defense attorney.