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Cedar Rapids DUI Lawyer: Are sobriety tests voluntary?

The law deems sobriety testing voluntary in Iowa DUI prosecutions, called Operating While Intoxicated here.

When law enforcement officers ask a subject to step out of the vehicle to "make sure you're safe to drive," the initial directive to get out of the car is a command, but the individual performance of each standardized field sobriety test is considered optional.

Of course, the language and factual circumstances do not make it seem very voluntary but courts in Iowa have noted that test subjects are free to decline the invitation to perform fields individually.

This is fair minded in situations where a subject has an injury that would prevent him or her from performing the Walk and Turn or One Leg Stand, for example, but allow them to participate voluntarily with the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, or, HGN, test, if it was their wish to do so.

Many clients believe that this is a Miranda violation because no one read the familiar Miranda warning before requesting standardized field sobriety test performance. First, there is a public policy exception to the Miranda requirement for a typical traffic stop. It is unusual to consider that a test subject at the roadside is in a custodial interrogation from a legal perspective, which would require the warning, although the individual facts and circumstances would dictate the outcome of a suppression hearing.

Moreover, it is not required that law enforcement halt testing to obtain the subject's attorney in the field, although it would be required to make a telephone available to the subject in a locked facility pursuant to Iowa Code 804.20.

Although many different things can happen during a traffic stop, a trained and experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate your prosecution and defense.

Contact us for an initial consultation.

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