At almost every stop by police in which the officer suspects the driver is intoxicated, he will ask that the driver take several field sobriety tests. These may consist of standing on one foot, walking a straight line while reciting the alphabet, or the eye test. Actually, what the officer is doing is gathering evidence of your inebriated behavior that they will later use against you in court. Most DUI attorneys believe you cannot “pass” them and they would never take them themselves. Why would most DUI attorneys refuse to take the field sobriety tests even if they are sober?
The tests cannot be passed, so why take them?
The truth is that the police officer has probably already decided that he is going to arrest you when he gives you the FST. However, the officer will claim in court that the results of the FST helped him determine that you were intoxicated.
When you consent to take the FST, the officer asks you to perform certain tasks and he grades you on them. Most of the time, these are not recorded on video, so it comes down to what the officer says. He can say you wobbled too much or stumbled when walking and that helped to show your probable intoxication. Whether you did or didn’t comes down to what the officer perceived vs. how you think you performed.
Also, many officers are not properly schooled in administering the tests. You may get an officer who believes in the results of the FSTs, but he is conducting the tests improperly and drawing inaccurate conclusions.
The field sobriety tests are entirely voluntary
The field sobriety tests are different than the chemical tests that you will be asked to submit to…there are no penalties for refusing to do them. If you refuse a urine, breath or blood chemical test after a DUI arrest in most states your license will automatically be suspended, and this action (in some states) may be used as evidence of your guilt in court.
The truth is, the officer has probably already decided to arrest you and he wants to use the FST to gather more evidence to use against you if you go to court, but if he says that he wanted to perform the FST to help determine if you were intoxicated, then he wasn’t sure and that could be ‘reasonable doubt’ in your case. Depending on your BAC, this could be an important statement on your side.
One last point, do not assume that a low BAC will put you in the clear no matter how you perform on the field sobriety tests. If your breath test is under .08%, you can still be arrested and charged with DUI! If you showed other evidence of intoxication (like poor results on a FST), then the State may still prosecute you.
Therefore, since the field sobriety tests are completely voluntary and the results are entirely subjective, you don’t have much of an opportunity to help yourself by taking them. Most likely, you will only hurt yourself.
- DUI – Refused Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Test. Was this a good idea? (duiattorneyhome.com)
- Drunk driving in Michigan- Should I plead guilty to my OWI charge? (duiattorneyhome.com)
- Georgia DUI – Penalties for third DUI (duiattorneyhome.com)