If pulled over by law enforcement and suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the following is what you can expect according to a Culpeper County DUI lawyer. To learn more about the DUI stop process consult with an attorney today.
When determining whether to pull an individual over for a DUI, law enforcement officers are looking for a number of things. Some stops are for other infractions such as speeding, running a stop sign, or running a red light. In other cases officers are looking for keys or clues that a DUI might be underway which can include anything from weaving in the lane to starting and stopping quickly to driving more slowly than is appropriate for road conditions. If the officer believes in their experience that they see a sufficient number of these pieces of evidence to give them a reasonable articulable suspicion that a DUI is underway then they will conduct a traffic stops to investigate further.
After an individual is stopped for a DUI the officer begins investigating the DUI immediately and is looking for evidence of DUI with everything they do. This could include everything from asking questions about whether a person has been drinking or how much they’ve been drinking to asking simple questions about where individuals are going, asking for the drivers’ license and registration and other questions.
They then observe how the individual responds and listen for whether they have slurred speech, watch for bloodshot eyes, or whether they have difficulty answering the questions.
Once an initial determination has been made that there is evidence of alcohol use, the officer will invite the individual out of the vehicle being careful to observe whether they have difficulty alighting from the vehicle or whether they need to use the vehicle to steady themselves. The officer will then administer field sobriety tests.
The standard field sobriety tests include the horizontal gaze Nystagmus, nine step walk and turn, and the one legged stand. These three tests are frequently used in combination with each other. However individual law enforcement agencies as well as individual officers have literally dozens of other tests that may be administered including finger to nose test, the finger dexterity test or counting the alphabet backwards.
Once these field sobriety tests have been performed under Virginia law the officer is then required to offer the individual a preliminary breath test. This is a hand held breath test which is given for the purpose of allowing the person to demonstrate that they do not have alcohol in their system. In practice the preliminary breath test is used as part of the determination of whether there is probable cause for the arrest.
If the officer determines based on all of the evidence that there is probable cause they will place the individual under arrest. Typically at that point a search will be conducted of the vehicle and the person may be questioned about any contraband that is found. At that point the vehicle will be towed away and the individual will be taken to the station to have the official blood alcohol test done.
Generally they have to wait 20 minutes before taking the test without vomiting or belching, which can affect the results of the test, and then at that point a blood alcohol test is administered and a certificate is generated which contains the official result. Assuming that it is above 0.08 or there is other sufficient evidence to charge the person with DUI the individual is then brought in front of the magistrate, the evidence is presented and in most cases a warrant is issued and terms of bail are set. In most cases a bond of some kind will be required and the person will be released once this has been posted.
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