You may be among many licensed drivers in Ohio who have paid fines for traffic tickets at some point in their lives. When a police officer pulls you over, it's understandable to feel nervous. Many times, things turn out a lot better than you expected, perhaps with the officer in question issuing a warning to slow down and then allowing you to leave.
Other times, a patrol officer might not only pull you over, he or she may ask you to exit your vehicle. If that happens, it's typically because the officer thinks you have committed a crime, such as driving under the influence of alcohol. After you exit your vehicle, the officer might ask you to take a field sobriety test. The more you know about such tests ahead of time, the better able you'll be to protect your rights, especially if you face arrest.
How police confirm their suspicions
An Ohio police officer has to have good reason to arrest you. If the officer issues a field sobriety test, and you fail it, you can wind up spending the rest of your evening in jail. You are not legally obligated to take such tests. However, it can be helpful to learn more about them in case a problem arises:
Walk-and-turn: If the police officer is looking for clues that you might be under the influence, it's common for him or her to observe your walking gait. In the walk-and-turn test, you must keep the heels of your toes on one foot at the toes of the other, then hold your arms out shoulder length while you walk a straight line.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This is a common field sobriety test, as well. If you can track an object left to right or up and down without using your head, and without your eyes jerking erratically before they've reached maximum peripheral vision point, it might help you avoid going to jail on suspicion of drunk driving.
One-leg stance: In this test, your arms must stay at your sides. However, you might have to lift your head toward the sky while standing on leg and counting out loud by thousands.
The problem is that these tests can be difficult to perform well even when sober. You might also have a particular health condition that impedes your ability to test well. For instance, if you had eye surgery or wear corrective lenses, you might struggle in taking the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
What to do if you fail
You don't have to take field sobriety tests. It's within your rights to refuse. Most Ohio motorists would rather cooperate and comply rather than possibly cause added stress to their situations by refusing. If the police officer arrests you, you may invoke your Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent without the presence of experienced legal representation.