Law enforcement officers have used field sobriety tests to identify drunk
drivers for decades now, yet it seems that they’re designed for
failure. According to a study by the Southern California Research Institute,
32% of individuals in a laboratory setting who were judged to have a BAC
above the legal limit were actually below the level. If field sobriety
tests are so unpredictable, why are they still used across the country?
Better yet, do you even need to take them if you’re pulled over
for suspicion of driving under the influence?
Why Are Field Sobriety Tests Used?
To begin, let’s get a better understanding of what a field sobriety
test is. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
officially endorses three different tests: the Horizontal gaze nystagmus
(HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. Sadly, the reliability
of standardized field sobriety tests comes into question on a regular
basis. Lack of baseline, sloped testing areas, complex instructions, injuries,
age, and illnesses can all cause you to fail the tests, despite sobriety.
So why are they still used?
Simply put, it’s just to gather evidence against you. Performance on the tests is one of the factors police, prosecutors and
courts consider in gauging whether a driver was under the influence of
alcohol or drugs. If field sobriety tests can’t help you win, is
there any way to avoid them?
Can You Refuse the Field Sobriety Tests?
Yes, field sobriety tests are not mandatory. However, the officer who pulls you over won't tell you this and will
use the results to justify your arrest and gather evidence against you
in court or at the DMV. It is your right to politely refuse any field
sobriety tests without being punished. Do not allow an officer to trick
or intimidate you into taking any field sobriety tests. Electing not to
take them cannot be used against you.
However, under implied consent laws in California, you must submit to at
least one chemical test if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who
believes you were driving under the influence. If you refuse, it can be
considered an admission of guilt and result in jail time and your license
Contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich Today
If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence, please contact our
Riverside DUI lawyers at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich today. Our mission is to get
you the best possible results, whether that means lesser charges or having
the charges dropped altogether.
or contact us online
for a free consultation about your case.