It is common practice for police to ask drivers to perform field sobriety tests when they suspect the driver may be under the influence of alcohol.
Many drivers do not know that they are under no legal obligation to submit to testing.
Types of field sobriety tests
There are three standardized types of field sobriety tests:
- The walk-and-turn test requires you to walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other, turn around and walk back in the same manner.
- The horizontal game nystagmus test entails the officer holding up an object and requiring you to follow it with your eyes only as the officer moves it left and right.
- The one-leg stand test requires you to stand on one leg with the other six inches above the ground and count to 30.
Additionally, they will likely ask you to submit to a chemical test, typically a breath test.
How they use field sobriety tests
The most common way they use the results of field sobriety tests is to prove you appeared intoxicated, even if the breath test did not warrant a BAC high enough to show impairment.
Refusing a field sobriety test
Most defense attorneys will tell you to refuse field sobriety testing because the results are often questionable, even when a person is completely sober. For example, not everyone can stand on one leg for 30 seconds, regardless of impairment.
Refusing a field sobriety test could still result in an arrest, but the officers will have less evidence to use against you.