Should you do your own field sobriety tests before driving?

| Nov 22, 2018 | Field Sobriety Tests

You’ve been at a holiday party or perhaps at a friend’s house for an afternoon of watching football. When it comes time to leave, you can’t recall how much you’ve had to drink and have no idea if you’re over the legal limit for driving. Can you try to recreate the standard field sobriety tests used by police officers to see if you’d pass?

Law enforcement professionals caution that performing tests like the one leg stand and walk and turn on your own or in front of a room filled with people who have also been drinking — and aren’t trained in administering the tests — is probably futile.

Police look for more than how well a person can balance. Aside from performing the horizontal gaze nystagmus test to spot involuntary jerking of the eye, they look for watery or bloodshot eyes as well as slurred speech.

Then, of course, there’s the Breathalyzer test. There are even home versions of those. Their reliability, however, is up for debate.

Police caution people against trying to determine their sobriety on their own or with the help of friends — even sober ones. Law enforcement officers undergo extensive training to learn how to spot drunk drivers and administer roadside sobriety tests.

Rather than guess at your blood alcohol level, they say, it’s better to let someone else drive you home — like an Uber driver, cab driver or non-drinking friend. As one police officer says, “If you’re in doubt, don’t drive.”

If you’re arrested for DUI, it’s essential to take the matter seriously and seek legal guidance. A DUI conviction in Maryland can result in fines, jail time and license suspension — all of which can put a damper on the holiday season and follow you well into the new year.

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