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Understanding DWI Tests

The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith May 30, 2022

Under Missouri DWI laws, all motorists are prohibited from operating or being in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. On suspicion or reasonable belief of driving while intoxicated, a police officer may pull your vehicle over and request that you submit to DWI tests (chemical tests or field sobriety tests).

Unfortunately, a lot of individuals are unaware of their rights and obligations pertaining to DWI tests when pulled over by law enforcement. As a result, many Missouri drivers who are charged with drunk driving usually become convicted or end up in the worst-case scenario. A highly-skilled Missouri criminal defense attorney can enlighten you about your rights with DWI tests and help strategize your defense.

At The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith, I have the resources, skills, and knowledge to represent and defend clients in their DWI cases. As your legal counsel, I can enlighten you about your rights and obligations regarding DWI tests and outline an effective defense strategy to help fight your drunk driving charges. My firm proudly serves clients across St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson County, and St. Louis County, Missouri.

Understanding Implied Consent in Missouri

Under Missouri law, any person who operates a motor vehicle on the highways and streets across the state is deemed to have given implied consent to DWI chemical testing if:

  • They have been arrested, and there are reasonable grounds to believe they were driving while intoxicated

  • They were involved in a serious or fatal accident, or

  • They are below the age of 21, and there are reasonable grounds to believe they were driving with a BAC of 0.02% or more

If the police officer reasonably believes that you were driving while intoxicated, you must take a chemical test (breath, saliva, blood, or urine test). Refusing a chemical test may result in various administrative or criminal consequences.

Blood Alcohol Test vs. Sobriety Test

A blood alcohol test is usually performed to measure the level of alcohol in your blood or body – your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you have a BAC level of at least 0.08% (adults) or at least 0.02% (persons under 21 years), you may be facing DWI charges. Blood alcohol tests are mandatory, and completing this chemical test is required under Missouri law.

Conversely, field sobriety tests, also known as "roadside Olympics," are a group of three tests – the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the One-Leg Stand Test, and the Walk-and-Turn Test – used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is impaired. Field sobriety tests are not as accurate as blood alcohol tests. Under Missouri law, field sobriety tests are voluntary, and there is no punishment for refusal.

Types of Sobriety Tests

There are three standardized field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test determines whether the eyes of an alleged drunk driver may be able to follow a moving object either in an irregular or smooth way.

One-Leg Stand Test

During the One-Leg Stand Test, the police officer will ask the alleged impaired driver to stand on a single foot at a height of about six inches above the ground and count for approximately 30 seconds.

Walk-and-Turn Test

During the Walk-and-Turn Test, the police officer will ask the alleged drunk driver to take nine steps along a straight line in a heel-to-toe manner. After that, the driver will also be asked to turn on a single foot and return back to their starting spot in the same heel-to-toe style.

Essentially, field sobriety tests are not an accurate way to determine whether a driver is intoxicated or sober. Someone could fail these tests on any given day. An experienced attorney can enlighten you about the possible consequences of DWI test refusal in Missouri.

Consequences of Refusal

Here are some possible consequences of refusing a blood alcohol test or field sobriety test.

Field sobriety tests are not covered under Missouri's implied consent laws. There are no criminal or administrative consequences for refusing to submit to one.

Conversely, refusing a blood alcohol test is a violation of implied consent laws in Missouri. This will result in an automatic one-year driver's license revocation.

Additionally, you may be facing severe penalties and other life-altering consequences if convicted of DWI in Missouri. Hence, it is imperative that you hire a knowledgeable Missouri DWI defense lawyer to strategize your defense and help you avoid the devastating consequences of a criminal conviction.

Don't Risk Your Future. Call Now.

Facing drunk driving charges in Missouri can be a terrifying experience. Nevertheless, understanding your rights and obligations with DWI tests, as well as the potential ramifications of a chemical test refusal, can help you make informed decisions. Therefore, when facing DWI charges, you need to act quickly and retain an aggressive criminal defense attorney to protect your driving privileges and help build your defense strategy.

At The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith, I'm dedicated to offering reliable representation and comprehensive legal guidance to clients facing drunk driving charges. As your legal counsel, I can:

  • Fight vigorously to protect your legal rights and driving privileges.

  • Review and investigate all of the surrounding facts of your case thoroughly.

  • Determine whether the law enforcement officer had probable cause to stop your vehicle or arrest you.

  • Investigate the various DWI tests performed and identify potential issues.

  • Help you navigate the Missouri criminal justice system.

  • Refute the allegations against you with substantial evidence and facts.

Don't face your drunk driving charges alone. Contact my firm – The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith – today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a skilled DWI defense lawyer. I can offer you the experienced legal counsel, reliable advocacy, and aggressive representation you need to fight your DWI charges. My firm proudly serves clients across St. Louis, St. Charles, Jefferson County, East St. Louis, and St. Louis County, Missouri.