Everybody has an idea of what “field sobriety test” means. Each one of these circus acts is intended to make drivers fail and provide evidence that you are intoxicated. Frequently, it is difficult to pass these tests even while sober. This post is the first in a series to discuss field sobriety tests.
1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has only approved three field sobriety tests that they claim scientifically show that you may be intoxicated.
2. You do not have to take field sobriety tests.
When the police ask you to provide evidence against yourself you are permitted to refuse. I would suggest you do this politely. Often the police will disguise the requests for field sobriety tests to make you feel awkward for refusing. I recently had a client who was asked if the police officer could look at his eyes. My client told the officer he could. That seemed reasonable. The officer then began administering a test. The police are also allowed to lie to you.
3. The tests are designed to make you fail and prove that you are drunk.
The police spend a significant portion of their training each year on the proper administration of field sobriety tests. They spend hours practicing giving the instructions, what to watch for, how to perform them perfectly, and how to testify about your performance at trial. It is very important to know that they are looking for clues as soon as they start interacting with you. They look for clues even before you start the test, during the instructions. The tests are not pass / fail. The officer is looking for very specific behaviors that are clues that you are drunk.
Remember, these things if you are ever pulled over. Every case is different and there may be specific defenses for your particular case