In the unfortunate event that you are stopped by the police and accused of driving under the influence, you should be aware of the types of tests that you may be asked to undergo and the consequences of agreeing or refusing to undergo these tests.
The three types of tests are field sobriety tests, portable breath tests, and evidentiary breath tests. This post will focus on the field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are conducted at the site of the traffic stop by the police officer who pulls you over. The officer will use the results of these tests to decide (1) whether or not to ask you to take a portable breath test and (2) whether or not arrest you for DUI.
The Most Common Field Sobriety Tests
The most common field sobriety tests are (1) the one-leg stand, (2) the walk and turn, which involves walking in a straight line taking heel to toe steps, and (3) the horizontal gaze. These three tests taken together are referred to as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
Research suggests that these tests, when conducted properly and taken together, are about 90% accurate in predicting a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher. That said, these tests are not infallible, and they may be challenged as part of a DUI defense. Each test, taken alone, can falsely suggest intoxication as often as one in three times. The accuracy rates for the individual tests are 77% for the horizontal gaze, 68% for the walk and turn, and 65% for the one-leg stand. Many people would have trouble correctly following an officer’s directions and passing these physical tests simply out of normal tiredness at the end of the long, busy day.
Should I Consent or Refuse to Do Field Sobriety Tests?
You are NOT required to consent to field sobriety tests. There is NO penalty for respectfully refusing. You will have to make the decision to consent or decline on the spot. You will not be given time to consult an attorney prior to making your decision.
By taking and passing the tests, you may avoid a DUI arrest altogether. It is always in your best interest to avoid an arrest, if at all possible. If you suspect you may not pass, it may be in your best interest to refuse, thus denying the police this source of evidence against you. If you decline to perform requested field sobriety tests, the police may still use other observations of you (for example, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or drugs on you, clearly visible open containers in the vehicle, or the way you were driving) as sufficient cause to arrest you and take you to a police station for evidentiary testing. But again, at least you have denied the police the evidence of the standardized field sobriety tests.
Protect Your Rights with a Skilled Joliet DUI/Traffic Violations Attorney
If you submitted to field sobriety testing and were arrested for DUI, contact an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to challenge the validity of the tests if they were not conducted and interpreted according to the documented standards or if you had legitimate reasons for failing a test. A knowledgeable Will County DUI/traffic violations defense attorney can examine the details of your case and help you determine the best legal strategy for your situation. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.