Common questions about field sobriety tests

| Jan 8, 2020 | DWI |

Getting pulled over can make anyone’s stomach drop. Even if the person is sober or well below the legal limit, field sobriety tests can be unreliable.

While many are beginning to question the accuracy of chemical tests, some are beginning to wonder whether field sobriety tests should be getting the same level of scrutiny.

What are the steps in a field sobriety test?

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are three specific parts to the standard sobriety test. The first involves an eye test where an officer can determine if a person has been drinking by examining the following:

  • If their eyes can follow an item held by the officer.
  • If the person can follow an officer’s instructions while walking in a straight line.
  • If the person can maintain their balance while standing on one leg without any other means of support.

How reliable are these examinations?

While these tests can help identify many individuals who are intoxicated, some are starting to wonder if field sobriety tests are genuinely objective. For instance, many drivers could still fail if they’re sober for a variety of reasons. Because of this, it can be challenging to obtain accurate results if the test is performed and scored the same way each time.

Another factor that can hinder the objectivity of the test is an officer’s intentions. Unfortunately, some may automatically assume the driver is under the influence of drugs and alcohol and arrest them regardless of how they performed the test.

Is it possible to refuse a field sobriety test?

Those who get pulled over can refuse to take the test. However, doing so can come with complications. The field sobriety test often get used to help the officer gain probable cause for arresting someone. If someone refuses to take the test, an officer may arrest them regardless. If an officer believes the person was driving under the influence, they’ll typically have them take more examinations once they get back to the station.

A DUI can be life-ruining

Receiving a DUI charge can be a lot easier than one might think. If someone falls victim to an inaccurate or unreliable test, they could wind up with a conviction they don’t deserve. Luckily, people can prevent those charges from getting on their record with sound legal representation.

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