When you have been pulled over by a police officer, especially if it is at night or the weekend, you can be pretty certain that they suspect you of drinking and driving, even before they say anything. Even if you haven't had enough drinks to intoxicate you, it is easy to start worrying about what you need to say and what you have to do. One of the first things the officer is going to do is ask you is to submit to a series of field sobriety tests. Although these are fairly run-of-the-mill, is taking them even the right choice?
Field Sobriety Tests are Inaccurate
You will be hard-pressed to find an attorney, or even a law enforcement officer, out there that will tell you that field sobriety tests are entirely accurate. Even very liberal reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts the more common tests anywhere between 79% to 88% effective. Yet they are still used every day and night on American roadways. Why?
The answer is that standing on one leg, walking a straight line, and following the tip of a pen with your eyes are easily administered and highly subjective “tests.” No matter the conditions, a police officer can tell you to do these things and use their better judgement to try to figure out if you are intoxicated. The problem is that even though they are easy to administer, they are also unfairly easy to fail. Cracks in the roadway, bumps in your shoes, and your own intrinsic sense of balance can make you fail these simple tests and appear drunk, even though you could be entirely sober.
Which brings us back to the original question…
Should You Take a Field Sobriety Test?
Refusing to take a field sobriety test is not the same as refusing a chemical (blood, breath, or urine) test, and doing so will not immediately suspend your license. If you do not feel comfortable with taking any FSTs, you do have the right to decline and, in many cases, this is your best choice.
The biggest downside of taking a field sobriety test is that you are giving the police evidence to use against you. If the officer does not have the ability to submit you to a chemical test and you refuse any FSTs, they have to go off their own judgement, which is difficult for them to uphold in court. On the other hand, if you do take an FST and fail it for any reason, even if it is not due to intoxication, you have just supplied reason of suspicion and your actions are likely being recorded on a dash cam as well.
I, Chicago DUI Attorney Mitch Furman, have been protecting the rights of people arrested after taking inaccurate field sobriety tests for more than a decade. Through my hard-work and dedication, I have been able to build a respectable reputation in Illinois and have accrued an impressive list of appreciative client testimonials. If you would like to see what I can do for you and your DUI case, contact me right away and we can schedule a free initial consultation.