Should you agree to a standardized field sobriety test?

By Jonathan Blecher on December 20, 2022

Under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police may pull over a driver and ask them to perform a sobriety test. Police may ask the driver to do a more commonly known sobriety test called a breathalyzer to evaluate their blood-alcohol content (BAC). If their BAC is 0.08% or more, then they will be charged with a DUI. 

Police don’t have to immediately use a breath test to determine sobriety. Instead, as often practiced by police officers, the driver may be asked to perform a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). An SFST is a physical test under the scrutiny of the officer. The following are commonly used SFSTs:

  • Horizontal gaze test
  • Walk-and-turn test
  • One-legged stand test

Officers aren’t limited to using just standardized field sobriety tests and may use non-standardized tests such as asking the driver to say the alphabet backward or touch their nose with their eyes closed. While a Breathalyzer is legally required when requested by the police under implied consent laws, many people wonder if they have to take SFSTs. Here’s what you should know:

SFSTs aren’t required nor are they enforceable 

Legally speaking, SFSTs aren’t enforceable. As such, a driver shouldn’t be punished for refusing to take an SFST. This is likely because there’s little to no science that can back up these kinds of sobriety tests. There are a lot of inaccuracies that can cause someone to be falsely accused of drunk driving. For example, a limp or an eye disability could easily cause an officer to perceive a driver as drunk, rather than having a physical limitation.

If you believe you were wrongly charged with a DUI, then you may need to reach out for legal help as you craft your defense.

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