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DUI Field Sobriety Tests

Posted by Sean Quinlan | Dec 04, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you have been pulled over by a police officer and suspected of driving under the influence (DUI), you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and mental exercises that police officers use to assess a person's coordination, balance, and cognitive function. The results of these tests can be used by the officer to determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

There are three standard field sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test: This test assesses the involuntary jerking of the eyes, which can be exacerbated by alcohol intoxication. The officer will ask you to follow a moving object with your eyes, such as a pen or their finger. If your eyes jerk while you are following the object, the officer may interpret this as a sign of intoxication.
  • Walk-and-turn test: This test assesses your balance and coordination. The officer will ask you to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line for nine steps, turn around, and walk back. The officer will be looking for any signs of stumbling, swaying, or losing your balance.
  • One-leg stand test: This test assesses your balance and coordination. The officer will ask you to stand on one leg for 30 seconds with your other leg raised six inches off the ground. The officer will be looking for any signs of swaying, hopping, or putting your foot down.

It is important to note that field sobriety tests are not foolproof. They can be inaccurate for a variety of reasons, such as medical conditions, fatigue, and stress. Additionally, the way the tests are administered can affect the results. For example, if the officer does not give clear instructions or if the test is performed on an uneven surface, the results may be unreliable.

If you are asked to perform field sobriety tests, you have the right to refuse. However, if you refuse, the officer may have probable cause to arrest you for DUI based on other evidence, such as the smell of alcohol on your breath or your slurred speech.

If you are arrested for DUI after failing field sobriety tests, it is important to contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and they can also represent you in court.

How to Prepare for Field Sobriety Tests

If you are pulled over by a police officer and suspect that you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Stay calm and respectful.
  • Ask the officer to explain the tests before you perform them.
  • Follow the officer's instructions carefully.
  • If you have any medical conditions that may affect your performance, let the officer know.
  • If you feel that you are unable to perform the tests safely, refuse to take them.

What to Do if You Fail a Field Sobriety Test

If you fail a field sobriety test, the officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer test measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. If you fail the breathalyzer test, you will likely be arrested for DUI.

If you are arrested for DUI, you should contact a DUI attorney immediately. A DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and they can also represent you in court.

How to Challenge the Results of a Field Sobriety Test

If you believe that the results of a field sobriety test are inaccurate, you can challenge the results in court. A DUI attorney can help you identify any errors that may have occurred during the administration of the test.

Some common reasons for challenging the results of a field sobriety test include:

  • The officer did not give clear instructions.
  • The test was performed on a dark or uneven surface.
  • The officer did not take your medical conditions into account.
  • You were unreasonably stressed or fatigued at the time of the test.

If you are successful in challenging the results of a field sobriety test, the evidence may be excluded from your case. This can improve your chances of winning your DUI case.

Conclusion

Field sobriety tests are a common part of DUI investigations. However, it is important to remember that these tests are not foolproof. If you are asked to perform field sobriety tests, you have the right to refuse. If you are arrested for DUI after failing field sobriety tests, it is important to contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. A DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and options, and they can also represent you in court.

About the Author

Sean Quinlan

Attorney Quinlan has practiced law in Pennsylvania since 2001. He earned his J.D. at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA, and earned his B.A. at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. He also belongs to the Pennsylvania State Bar Associati...

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