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How to handle field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2023 | DUI/DWI |

Most people become extremely nervous when pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Even if you are sober or only had a drink or two, your nervousness can make you appear impaired.

When police officers sense signs of impairment, such as rambling, slurred speech or glassy eyes, they may ask you how much you have had to drink and if you want to perform field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and mental exercises that police officers use to determine if someone is impaired. Failing field sobriety tests could provide officers with the probable cause necessary to make a DUI arrest.

Common field sobriety tests

Some common examples of physical field sobriety tests include being asked to walk in a straight line or stand on one leg. Mental tests can include being asked to recite the alphabet backwards or count backwards from 100.

You might also be asked to perform a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which involves following a moving object with your eyes.

Police officers are looking for clues that indicate impairment, such as starting to walk too soon, being unable to keep your balance or recite the information they ask. With the horizontal gaze test, if your eyes cannot follow the object, it could indicate impairment.

You do not have to perform field sobriety tests

You do not have to answer any questions about what you had to drink. You can also say no to field sobriety tests, although you might be scared to do so.

If you find yourself agreeing to field sobriety tests, take a deep breath and try to relax before starting the test. Remember to keep your cool.

Pay close attention to all instructions given by the police officers. Ask a question if you do not understand something. Failing a test simply because you did not understand the instructions could lead to your arrest for DUI.

Don’t fake it

Do not try to cheat the tests or become too eager to prove your sobriety. Focus on balance and coordination, which is what many of the tests involve.

Field sobriety tests are not always the most reliable indicators of impairment. If your arrest is based on failing one of these tests, you could potentially have a strong defense to a DUI charge.