If an Indiana police officer suspects someone of an operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) offense, they will start gathering evidence to prove their suspicions. When the officer arrives at the scene of a crash or pulls someone over, they will ask questions that might lead to a driver implicating themselves or speaking in a way that suggests they are under the influence.
Once the officer has reason to believe chemical impairment could be an issue, they will likely then conduct certain tests to determine if that driver is under the influence and to document their condition. The results of those tests often lead to a driver’s arrest and become the foundation of the criminal charges against them.
What tests do Indiana police officers frequently perform during OWI traffic stops?
Field sobriety tests
To convince the courts or someone’s chemical intoxication, police officers often seek to demonstrate visible signs of impairment. Field sobriety tests help document someone’s impaired reasoning ability, motor function and balance.
The most common tests include the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Failing these tests will typically give an officer the probable cause they need to request additional testing.
Chemical alcohol and drug tests
When an officer has probable cause to suspect impairment, state law allows them to perform chemical tests of a driver pulled over while driving or recently involved in a collision. Chemical breath testing helps establish someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the traffic stop. Those over the legal limit based on their license type and age may face arrest and prosecution.
Of course, those who pass a breath test might then face requests for a blood draw. Such testing is often the only way for the state to determine if someone has a prohibited or controlled substance in their bloodstream, like narcotic painkillers. Some drivers refuse to submit to chemical testing, at which point an officer may arrest them for a violation of the Indiana implied consent law.
There are ways for those accused of impaired driving to fight back against those charges. Learning about how police officers build a case can help those hoping to avoid an OWI conviction.