Why you should refuse all field sobriety tests

| Oct 9, 2020 | DWI/DUI

You were blowing off some steam with some friends from work one Friday night and drank a couple of extra glasses of wine. You knew that you had probably had a little too much alcohol and should have called for a ride, but you risked it anyway. 

Now, those dreaded blue lights are in your rearview mirror. When the cop pulls you over, he asks you to perform some field sobriety tests. Should you do it?

The answer is an unequivocal “no.” There really is no upside to doing roadside sobriety tests. “Passing” these tests is often highly subjective, and the cop can still place you under arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) based on their observations.

Also, the chances are good that you will fail one or more tests the police officer gives you. For example, the “one-leg stand” test could be impossible for many people to pass stone-cold sober. There are many disabling conditions that could preclude an individual standing straight on just one leg for 30 seconds without wobbling.

Ditto for the “walk and turn” test and the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” (HGN) tests. With the walk and turn test, you may be asked to walk heel-to-toe according to the officer’s directives while you are only mere inches from the lanes of traffic whizzing by you at high speeds. You are already nervous and might not correctly hear what the officer is asking you to do. The HGN test is no better. Any vision condition, even some of which you may not even be aware you have, can cause a skewed false-positive result.

The bottom line with field sobriety tests is that you should never hand the police and prosecutor evidence against yourself. If they intend to arrest you, simply comply without resisting. Do not answer questions or volunteer information. Ask to speak to a defense attorney as soon as you are able during the booking process and remember to exercise your right to remain silent.