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Do you have to perform field sobriety tests during a DUI stop?

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2020 | DUI/DWI Charges |

You might decide to go behind the wheel after having a little too much to drink or simply find yourself passing a DUI checkpoint. In either case, a police officer will probably ask you to pull over and perform a series of sobriety tests. But what if you feel like there is no need to exit your vehicle to prove you are sober on the side of the road or that you’d rather have a judge decide if arresting you made sense?

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has given their stamp approval of three standardized field sobriety tests that law enforcement officers use across the country. As an overview, the three tests that an officer will most likely ask you to take if they believe you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol include:

  • Walk-and-turn test: This test requires suspects to walk in a straight line taking nine heel-to-toe steps, turning around on one foot and doing the same thing back.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: Through this test, a suspect must follow a small object with their eyes while a police officer moves it around.
  • One-leg stand test: During this test, the suspect must raise one foot about six inches off the ground and count, starting from one thousand, until the officer asks them to stop.

You don’t have to prove you are an acrobat during these tests. However, strong coordination and ability to follow directions during them may leave an officer empty-handed when it comes to collecting probable cause or evidence to arrest you. On the other hand, failing these tests might give the officer reason to believe you were impaired while driving. But you have the right to refuse to take these tests.

It’s important to note that test refusal won’t always save you from an arrest. If you refuse to take these tests, the officer might suspect you don’t want them to find out how impaired you really are and use that as their reason to arrest you. Or maybe, they feel like your erratic driving or the strong smell of alcohol on your breath is enough proof to arrest you.

Keep in mind that if you choose to perform these tests, there are several reasons the results might be inaccurate. Sometimes a police officer’s unclear instructions or a health condition that impacts one’s balance can lead to a sober person failing a sobriety test. But whether you’ve followed or dodged an officer’s request to take sobriety tests, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight your charge.



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