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roadside test

n. a preliminary test law enforcement officers use on a suspected drunk driver at the spot the driver has been pulled over. Essentially it is a test of equilibrium (balance), reflexes and mental acuity, consisting of standing on one foot and then the other, walking a straight line, touching one's nose with the forefinger of each hand, saying the alphabet backwards or counting by twos. Some tests include writing. Although sometimes a judgment call by the officers, a suspect's failure of the test is often obvious and may be supplemented by reports of slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol and answers to simple questions such as "How much did you have to drink?" or "Do you know where you are?" If the officer decides the driver is drunk, he/she will inform the driver he/she is being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, read the Miranda rights, arrest the driver and transport him/her to a nearby police facility, where the suspect is asked to submit to an alcohol blood test (breathalizer, blood or urine) which is more definitive than the subjective roadside test. If the driver refuses the blood alcohol test, the officer may testify in court on the roadside test results as proof of drunkenness if there is a trial of the accused. In cases in which the inability to drive effectively is due to use of narcotics or a combination of drugs and alcohol, the roadside test may provide crucial evidence of physical symptoms and mental confusion indicating inability to drive safely even though the alcohol level is below the legally drunk level.

See also: driving while intoxicated  Miranda warning 

The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications