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Don’t submit to field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2020 | Uncategorized

You’re driving home after enjoying happy hour with the gang from work when you see those dreaded blue lights in your rearview mirror. You immediately regret that round of shooters or extra margarita that you let yourself get talked into.

Before you can formulate a plan of action, the cop is tapping his flashlight on your window. When you roll it down, he says he pulled you over on suspicion of drunk driving and wants you to perform some roadside field sobriety tests.

Should you comply?

It’s hard to emphasize this enough. Do not ever do roadside field sobriety tests. Research done by both the Southern California Research Institute (SCRI) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have shown that the accuracy rates of these tests to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level fall far short of the mark.

Only 3 recommended tests

While the police officer who stopped you can request that you undertake various sobriety tests as disparate as reciting the alphabet backwards to the “hand pat test,” all motorists should know that the NHTSA has only sanctioned these three field sobriety tests:

  • One-leg stand
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk-and-turn

Furthermore, detained drivers should also understand that even with the three main tests that were deemed to be more reliable indicators of intoxication, it is entirely possible for a sober person to fail them for very mundane reasons that have nothing to do with a driver’s BAC.

Someone with amblyopia (“lazy eye”) can’t properly track an officer’s moving pen. Drivers with bad knees, hips, ankles or those who have gait problems, or a host of other medical conditions, cannot properly do walk-and-turns or stand on one leg. The rushing gusts of air coming off of swiftly moving traffic mere feet from nervous detained drivers is enough to make them stumble or sway.

In short, there is no good reason to hand police and prosecutors potential evidence against you in a case of driving under the influence (DUI). Never resist arrest and always remain polite and respectful when you assert your rights against self-incrimination and ask to speak with your Roanoke criminal defense attorney.