You are NOT Required to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests.
Police officers pull people over for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they suspect a DUI, but other times it’s a routine traffic stop for something completely different. However, if they smell alcohol on your breath or notice you are acting strange, they may ask you to perform a field sobriety test to make sure you are not driving under the influence.
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFSTs)
If you are pulled over because the police suspect you are driving while intoxicated, it can make you pretty nervous. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s a hassle to be suspected of it, and there’s always the nagging thought in the back of your mind that has you self-conscious about what they might find.
The Field Sobriety Tests are something police use to determine probable cause for arrest when someone is suspected of driving drunk. The three types of SFSTs approved by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration are intended to check your balance, reaction time, focus, and other things that may indicate you can’t function properly due to alcohol consumption.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) requires that you follow the object (pen or light) the officer is holding while he watches your eyes. You will have to keep your head still and eyes on the object as the officer moves the object back and forth from side to side, then up and down, to determine intoxication.
The Walk-and-Turn test requires you to walk in a straight line for nine steps; each step requires that you put the heel of your forward foot against the toe of the foot that’s behind. Then you must turn around in a specific way and walk the nine steps back, doing the same heel to toe action on each step.
A One-Leg Stand checks your balance by having you hold one foot six inches off of the ground with your toe pointed up while you count from 0 to 30.
Some unofficial tests may include reciting the alphabet (E to X) or counting (17 to 35 and back). These tests are known as Divided Attention Tests and are only approved for the detection of the presence of alcohol, not impairment from alcohol.
Should I perform the Field Sobriety Tests
So now we get down to it. Do you have to perform these tests if asked? The answer is no. In fact, attorneys strongly advise against taking these tests. If an officer is asking for you to perform these, he’s likely already intent on arresting you and you don’t have much more to gain from performing them.
A field sobriety test is not used for determining the actual drunkenness of a driver. The tests are used to determine that the driver is impaired by alcohol and that they are likely above the legal limit of .08 BAC. This is especially true if the test is not administered correctly, or the driver barely fails.
You do not have to submit to a field sobriety test, but if you are arrested for drunk driving, contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your options.
Call the Johnson Law Firm to speak with an Experienced DUI Attorney
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