A motorist is pulled over somewhere in the District of Columbia for allegedly making an illegal turn on red, speeding, weaving, or the driver may have even been stopped on the side of the road. An MPD officer approaches the car and the driver rolls down his or her window.
The officer is already claiming that he can smell the strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. He asks if you have been drinking. It is a common answer to say, “I only had a couple of drinks.” It is best to not admit to drinking. He then asks if you had anything to drink since you drove. There is no right answer to this question. If you say no, as most are inclined to do, you just gave him evidence that you must have drank alcohol before driving which is a crime. If you say yes, it won’t look good either. He asks you to step out of the vehicle. He is trying to gather enough evidence to make a DWI arrest.
At this point, the officer will ask you to take some field sobriety tests. In Washington, DC they will typically use the three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) authorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This consists of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), the Walk and Turn, and the One Legged Stand. Many sober people can’t do these tests properly because of being overweight, having medical conditions, or not understanding the complicated instructions. A Washington, DC DUI defense attorney who has been trained in SFST administration may be able to challenge your test results in court.