Field Sobriety Tests

Should I agree to take a Field Sobriety Test? Are they reliable? What will happen to me if I refuse?

One of the most humiliating experiences a citizen can go through is standing along side a highway in front of blue lights, while an officer subjects you to field sobriety test. If you ever find yourself in this situation, there are some facts you should know before subjecting yourself to these tests.

First of all, you have a right to refuse to participate in these tests. If you choose not to perform the field sobriety tests, there will be no legal penalties against you. Police officers know this, however, they are under no obligation to inform you of this right.

Field sobriety tests were developed in the 1970’s to help officers find probable cause of an intoxicated driver. The three most common tests are the walk and turn, one leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test, where an officer asks a driver to follow an object with his or her eyes. These three tests have been standardized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. There are also non standardized tests which an officer may perform including the finger to nose test, the finger count test, and the backward count test.

These tests, whether standardized or not, are not foolproof and may be unreliable in a number of ways. First of all, the tests are not scientific in nature and the officer’s conclusions based solely on how he feels you are performing. An officer also may not be properly trained in explaining and conducting the tests. Performance on field sobriety tests can also be negatively impacted whether or not you are intoxicated. If you are elderly, overweight, or suffer from knee or back pain, you could “fail” these tests even if you are sober.

Lastly, you should know that these tests may not have any effect on whether you not the officer decides you are intoxicated. Even if you perform well on each test, the officer may still decide that he has a reason to believe you are driving under the influence and place you under arrest.

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The Integrity Law Firm, PLLC

The Integrity Law Firm provides knowledgeable, experienced legal counsel to people in the Chattanooga area. With a focus on family, criminal, and traffic law, our team works diligently on your behalf to help you obtain the legal results you are seeking.

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