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DC DUI Testing in Cases of Injuries

In car accidents where impairment is suspected, the police often ask people to perform a series of sobriety tests. The three standard field sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or what is called the pen test or the eye test where they are watching what a person’s eyes are doing as they go back and forth following a stimulus. There is also the walk-and-turn test and the one-legged stand test.

However, if an individual gets into an accident and sustains an injury that is serious enough that it impacts their ability to take a sobriety test, then the officer is not going to be able to subject the defendant to the field sobriety test. DC DUI testing in cases of injuries is a little more complicated than field sobriety tests normally are. If an individual wants to know more about DUI testing in case of injuries, they should consult a knowledgeable DUI lawyer that could answer their questions and build a solid case for them.

How Different Injuries Can Impact the Accuracy of a Test

DC DUI testing in cases of injuries can sometimes be deemed inaccurate. For example, if an individual has sustained a head injury, the accuracy of that test can be called into question. If an individual is involved in an accident where the airbags deployed or some other reason to think that the individual’s head smashed into something, if their head is bleeding for example, if they had an eye injury based on the accident, that will limit or preclude the application of the HGN or the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

If the individual is injured in the legs or the back, their knees, their ankles, their feet – basically, any of their extremities below the waist – that would then likely prohibit the use of the other two field sobriety tests or what is called the walk-and-turn and the one-legged stand because any injuries to those lower extremities would seriously impact the accuracy of those field sobriety tests.


Alternatives to Sobriety Tests

DC DUI testing in cases of injuries can be difficult to carry out. In instances where individuals are too injured to take a sobriety test, police officers will often rely on observations. For example, if someone smells of alcohol that could be an indication that they were drinking and somewhat impaired. Law enforcement might also observe how the individual acts, whether they are able to balance or not and use other sensible observations. The defense can try to challenge the arrest by contesting the accuracy of the observations.

The defense could argue that law enforcement might not know whether someone is acting outside of the norm at all. An individual could have allergies or easily irritated eyes, leading to watery eyes. With these kinds of issues, the less information and evidence that a defendant gives to the police for their use against them in a DUI case, the better it is for the defense attorney.

Indicators of Intoxication

In situations where the driver was injured in an accident such that they cannot be subjected to standardized field sobriety tests, then the officer is going to need to rely on their observations of that defendant other than the field sobriety tests. These include:

  • Bloodshot and watery eyes
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Alcohol scented breath

Blood Tests as an Alternative to Field Sobriety Tests

When DC DUI testing in cases of injuries is not possible, law enforcement could potentially rely on blood tests as well. If a person who is involved in an accident is suspected of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then the police will likely request that a blood sample be taken and given to them at the hospital. Blood tests are also a pretty accurate way to measure impairment. If an individual wants to know more about testing in case of injuries and how the results of a blood test could impact their case, they should speak with a skilled DUI attorney that can help.

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