Drunk drivers in Jacksonville, NC, can face many penalties, including loss of their license and possible jail time. However, the officer who stops the vehicle must prove the driver had been driving while intoxicated. Officers commonly use several tests to determine a driver’s impairment and blood alcohol content, or BAC, level.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus
One field test includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, which requires the driver to follow a moving object with their eyes, such as a light or pen. The officer instructs the driver to remove eye wear, keep the head still and follow directions.
The officer looks for some clues of impairment, such as jerking at a 45-degree angle and having trouble tracking. If the driver shows multiple irregularities with each eye, their BAC is likely above the legal limit, which is 0.08 in most states.
The walk-and-turn test checks the driver for balance and the ability to follow directions. The officer asks the driver to walk nine steps on a straight line, turn on one leg and walk nine steps back the other way.
The officer looks for heel-to-toe walking, using arms to balance, starting the test early, losing balance and failing to take the correct number of steps. A driver who fails in two or more ways commonly indicates a BAC above the legal limit.
During the one-leg stand test, the driver must balance on one leg with the other six inches off the ground for 30 seconds, counting the time. The officer looks for four signs of impairment that include hopping for balance, swaying, using arms to balance or placing the lifted foot on the ground.
A driver showing two or more signs of impairment commonly indicates intoxication, but the National Highway Traffic Administration says that the test may not be reliable. Statistics show that the one leg stand has a 65% success rate, and certain conditions can make this test difficult for even sober individuals, such as older people and drivers with back problems.
A good criminal defense strategy is essential in fighting drunk driving charges since errors can be made. Drivers charged with a DUI should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to explore their options.