In the state of California, field sobriety tests are a way for police officers to observe the balance, physical ability and attention level of a person who's been pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Officers typically record these field sobriety tests as evidence in a DUI case.
Unfortunately, many drivers are unaware of their rights and feel pressured to submit to these kinds of tests. If you’re pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, do you have to submit to a field sobriety test?
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test
The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), endorsed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), is a battery of 3 tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – The HGN test is used to measure the involuntary jerking of the eyes as they look left and right. When someone is impaired, the tendency for eye jerking becomes much more prominent. To administer this test, a police offer will hold an object in front of the driver, move it side-to-side and ask the driver to follow it with their eyes and without turning their head.
- Walk-and-Turn Test – This test helps determine a driver’s coordination, balance and motor skills. During the walk-and-turn test, a driver is asked to walk a straight line, heel-to-toe. At the end of the line, the driver must pivot on one foot and return in the opposite direction.
- One-Leg Stand Test – In this test, an officer asks a driver to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and count upwards.
In addition to the SFST, a driver may be asked to perform other tests, including the finger-to-nose and alphabet tests.
Do I Have to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test?
No, you do not have to submit to any field sobriety tests. However, if a police officer feels that you are impaired, they may arrest you or require you to submit to a chemical test, which is required under the California Implied Consent Law. Unlike denying a field sobriety test, saying no to a chemical test can lead to an automatic suspension of your license and a DUI charge.
If you have been arrested for DUI, contact our Temecula criminal defense lawyers at Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. If you enlist our legal guidance, we will work tirelessly to see that you and your family obtain the best possible result.Call (951) 506-6654 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case.