The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


47 DuPage Court, Elgin, IL 60120

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b2ap3_thumbnail_DUI_20191014-235658_1.jpgIt is always a scary feeling to see red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror, especially if you know you’ve had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel. A lot of people think that they will be arrested for a DUI offense if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit and so they refuse the necessary tests during the traffic stop.

It is within a person’s rights to refuse the breathalyzer test and the typical field sobriety test during the traffic stop, however, that would result in an automatic one-year suspension of a driver’s license and a possible arrest where the test will be administered at the police station.

However, an arrest is not usually made unless the officer knows for sure that a driver is drunk. How do they figure that out without a chemical or field sobriety test? They observe a driver’s behavior, movements, smells, and use techniques to properly determine the sobriety.

Driver Interview Process

A police officer starts observing drunken behavior before he/she even stops the vehicle. They look for signs such as swerving, uncontrolled braking or accelerating, and delayed reactions which could be evidence of driver drunkenness.

Then, they will perform a traffic stop to assess the status of the driver. The officer will sometimes not ask for the driver to get out of the car at first, but instead, they will conduct a driver interview. During this time, an officer will:

  • Look for signs of drunkenness: slurred speech, glossy eyes, alcohol smells.
  • Ask difficult questions or ask a driver for multiple documents at the same time.
  • Observe the motor skills of the driver. Whether or not they are fumbling for documents.
  • Ask questions while a driver is looking for their license to see how easily distracted the driver becomes.
  • Ask the driver to recite part of the alphabet or answer questions they would normally be able to answer.
  • Ask the driver to count down from 15 to 1.
  • Ask the driver to verify how many fingers the officer is holding up.

Depending upon the answers of the driver and the observations the officer collects, the officer will then ask the driver to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test.

Typical Field Sobriety Test

It is within a driver’s rights to not perform a field sobriety test, but if the officer already has clear evidence of drunkenness, they can still perform an arrest without a test.

If a driver does accept the field sobriety test, there are three general exams the officer will ask the driver to perform:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: the officer will have the driver follow their finger with only their eyes. If the driver moves their head or has a “jerky” response in their eyes, they fail the test.
  • Walk-And-Turn: the officer will ask the driver to walk in a straight line for a number of steps, turn, and walk back the same amount of steps. If the driver has to use their arms for balance, makes an improper turn, stumbles, or cannot walk in a straight line, they fail the test.
  • One-Leg Stand: the officer will ask the driver to raise one foot off the ground with their arms at their sides. Then, the driver will count up from 1,000 until told to stop. If the driver falls over, uses their arms for balance, or cannot count, they fail the test.

Officers will fully explain and demonstrate each test before they ask the driver to perform the actions. If the driver does not follow the directions completely, they will fail the field sobriety test.

Often people refuse the field sobriety test because they can be inaccurate depending on the conditions of the road or the physical ability of the driver. Those who are unable to lift a leg and be balanced even when sober can fail the one-leg stand and face possible arrest because of it.

Contact an Elgin, IL DUI Attorney

Drivers who have been wrongfully arrested on a DUI charge or those who have refused a field sobriety test can face many consequences including the loss of a driver’s license, fines, and even jail time for multiple offenders. The lawyers of the Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola can help defend a driver’s rights and build a defense to avoid any negative conviction. To schedule a free consultation with a Kane County DUI lawyer, call our office at 847-488-0889.




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walk, Kane County DUI defense attorneyFor most people, walking several steps in a straight line then turning around and walking back is about as simple an action as there is. Doing so, of course, may be considerably more difficult for those who have been drinking. That is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recognized the "Walk-and-Turn" as one of the three assessments that comprise the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) used by law enforcement nationwide.

In a recent post on this blog, we talked about the first test of the series—the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). The walk-and-turn is the second test, and the third is the one-leg stand, which will be covered in the near future. Each test was selected to allow officers on the scene to observe a subject’s reflexes and involuntary responses, giving the officer the basis on which to suspect whether a driver is impaired.

Test 2: The Walk-and-Turn

There are two distinct phases of the walk-and-turn test. The first is the instruction phase, during which the officer asks the subject to stand heel-to-toe with his or her arms downs and at the side of the body. The officer explains the test and demonstrates how it should be performed. Before allowing the subject to begin, the officer will confirm that the subject understands the instructions. Then the second phase—the performance phase—begins.

During the test, the subject must walk nine steps, heel to toe, along a straight line—either painted on the ground or imaginary. The subject must then pivot 180 degrees and take nine steps back. Throughout the duration of the test, the subject’s arms must remain at his or her side while he or she watches his or feet and counts the steps aloud.

While watching the subject, the officer will be looking for certain indicators that suggest impairment. These include:

  • Starting to walk before the instructions are complete;
  • Stopping or raising the arms to regain balance;
  • Takes the wrong number of steps or loses count; and
  • Stepping off the line or not walking heel to toe.

Accuracy Concerns

When properly administered, the walk-and-turn test is accurate in predicting impairment between 66 and 79 percent of the time, depending on which studies one believes. Regardless of the number, the larger point is that the test does produce false positives. Many individuals suffer from conditions that affect their balance and gait, making a straight-line, heel-to-toe walk fairly difficult, if not impossible. With that in mind, it may be possible to challenge the results of the walk-and-turn—and the other SFSTs—with the help of your attorney.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), contact an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney for guidance. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.


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tests, Kane County DUI defense attorneyA recent post on this blog talked a little about the use of breathalyzers when drivers are stopped on the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). While chemical tests like breathalyzers are commonly used by law enforcement to gather evidence to support a DUI arrest, officers have a number of other tools at their disposal to help them identify drunk drivers. Among these is a battery of tests known as standardized field sobriety tests, or SFSTs, which includes three separate activities during which the officer will look for indicators of intoxication. Over the next several weeks, we will discuss each test in detail.

The Basics of Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has officially recognized three separate tests that comprise the battery of SFSTs used by law enforcement officers nationwide. These tests—the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand—measure specific involuntary responses or reflexes that could be compromised by alcohol or drugs. The tests are not definitive in and of themselves but are part of a larger body of evidence to support an officer’s suspicion that a driver is intoxicated.

Test 1: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The first test is known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Nystagmus is another word for the involuntary jerking of the eyeball as a person utilized his or her peripheral vision. An impaired person’s eyes tend to jerk sooner and in a more exaggerated manner than those of a person who has not been drinking.

To conduct the HGN test, an officer will ask the subject to stand still and follow a stimulus—usually a pen or small flashlight—with his or her eyes without moving the head. The officer moves the object from side to side while observing the subject’s eyes. Signs of impairment include that the subject cannot follow the object smoothly, jerking begins before the eyes reach 45 degrees from center, or the jerking is distinct and sustained at the furthest edge of vision. The NHTSA reports that the HGN test properly predicts impairment about 80 percent of the time. The test, however, can also indicate that the subject is taking anti-seizures medicines or other depressants.

Contact a Skilled DUI Lawyer

In upcoming posts, we will take an in-depth look at the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests. Meanwhile, if you have been charged with driving under the influence, you need help. Contact an experienced Kane County DUI defense attorney to discuss your case and to explore your available options. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.


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breathalyzer, Elgin DUI defense attorneyIn Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the wise Jedi master Yoda offers this sage advice: "Fear is the path that leads to the dark side." There is no question that fear makes people do some pretty strange things. When we are afraid, we may lash out at close friends and loved ones, we may turn inward and become self-destructive, and we may act in ways that are very uncharacteristic. Fear is also often of the strongest emotions present when a person is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving—fear of conviction, license suspension, and other penalties—and some drivers will do just about anything to escape prosecution.

One Poor Choice After Another

Earlier this week, a man in Rock Hill, South Carolina was pulled over by local police after law enforcement officers observed the man’s car swerving and crossing the center line several times. As the prepared to approach the car, officers say they saw the driver "actively spraying AXE body spray into his mouth," and included the observation in their police report. When they asked the man what he was doing, the report states that he told them he was just applying the spray from "head to toe."

It is unclear whether the driver hoped to mask the smell of alcohol on his person or if he thought the spray might taint the results of a breathalyzer test. Either way, the man reportedly failed three separate field sobriety tests and was arrested on charges of driving under the influence.

Myths About Breath Tests

You may have heard that if you need to drive when you are at or near the legal limit, you should keep mouthwash or mints in your car. Some may have even suggested sucking on a penny or other tricks for beating a breathalyzer. While certain substances—alcohol-based mouthwash, for example—could temporarily increase the amount of alcohol in your breath, a properly administered breathalyzer takes such methods into account. In most cases, the official test will not be administered until you have been observed for at least 15 minutes without putting anything in your mouth, thereby limiting the effect of masking or tainting agents.

This is not to say that breathalyzers are perfect or that the testing procedure is always beyond reproach. But, rather than wasting your time on trying to fool the machine, you may be better off simply exercising your right to refuse such a test, even though a statutory summary suspension may result.

Call Our Office Today

If you have been arrested on DUI charges or a facing a license suspension for failing or refusing a breathalyzer test, you need legal help. Call an experienced Elgin DUI defense attorney at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today. We will provide the guidance you need throughout the proceedings and can even help you get back on the road sooner than you may have thought possible.


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