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A primer on police drunk driving assessment tests

Slightly slurred speech, excessive giggles or a sleepy facial expression may hint that a person is tipsy, but it is hard to accurately assess someone’s blood alcohol content without a blood or urine test. If you are hit by another motorist, you may suspect the other driver is drunk — but how to be sure? 

There are several tests police officers use that indicate potential intoxication. If a drunk driver does injure you, field sobriety tests, breathalyzer results and chemical tests can all be used to substantiate your case. 

Field sobriety tests

After a serious accident, you and the other driver will talk to the responding police officers. These officers will use observation and assessment tests to alert them to possible drunk driving situations. These include:

  • Erratic driving. If a car is veering left or right, traveling well below current traffic speeds or coming quite close to bumping parked cars or nearby curbs, it may signify driver intoxication. Most police officers who witness such things will immediately make a traffic stop.
  • Signs of intoxication. Alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and other indications of intoxication will immediately set off red flags and lead the officer to ask the driver to get out of the car if he or she is not already.
  • Three types of field sobriety tests. These tests may involve asking a motorist to stand on one foot while counting. Another is to ask a driver to walk a straight line, placing the heel of one foot to the toes of the other with each step. There’s also a specific eye-gaze test that helps officers determine the likelihood of intoxication.

Breath, blood and urine tests

Breathalyzer tests can detect if someone has been drinking heavily. If a police officer wishes to gather more concrete evidence, however, he or she will request a driver’s submission to a chemical test, such as obtaining blood or urine samples. Blood and urine tests are more accurate. Refusing this test is brings significant punishment for the driver.

If you are involved in a collision that results in your injury and later learn the person who caused the crash was intoxicated, you have the right to pursue justice in a civil court.


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