At first blush, field sobriety tests seem like a legitimate way for officers to assess drivers suspected of intoxication. But when you dig a little deeper, it quickly becomes apparent that these tests often do more harm than good to the driver being questioned.
The biggest reason for this is because field sobriety tests are entirely subjective. Rather than being based on any scientific or concrete evidence, it is up to the officer to determine if you performed the test sufficiently. If not, which is true in most cases, the fact that you ‘failed’ can later be used against you by the prosecution.
What Happens if You Refuse?
The very thought of saying no to a police officer can be scary, but when it comes to field sobriety tests, this may best thing you can do. If you've been stopped by the police and asked to perform roadside sobriety exercises, there's a 95% chance you will be arrested anyway, so why give the police any evidence at all? There may be "legal consequences" even for politely refusing to perform a field sobriety test, provided that the officer advises you that your refusal may be introduced at trial. If he tells you that the tests are free and voluntary, then you have been afforded a "safe harbor".
Regardless of the field sobriety test you are asked to perform, it is important to stand your ground. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has endorsed three tests which are as follows:
- Walk-and-Turn Test
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
- One-Leg Stand Test
No test, however, is more accurate than the next. It has been said that by the time an officer asks a driver to perform a test, they have already made up their mind to arrest the individual. This reinforces the subjectivity of field sobriety tests and the importance of exercising your right to say no when asked to perform one.
If you were recently arrested after performing and failing a field sobriety test, you may be wondering, “What now?” As a DUI attorney, I am here to tell you that all hope is not lost. I have successfully dismantled many prosecutorial arguments based on failed field sobriety tests and am unintimidated when such an argument is introduced in the courtroom.However, it is imperative that you act quickly. Time is of the essence and my firm is ready to fight for you following a DUI arrest. Get in touch with me, Jonathan Blecher, for hard-hitting advocacy in Miami before it is too late.