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Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen
Photo of Joshua Nielsen

I’ve been pulled over: Do I have to do Field Sobriety Tests?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2020 | car accidents

It’s been long day and a longer night. You’re heading home from a work party – you only had a couple of drinks – and while you are tired, you feel okay to drive. A squirrel darts in front of you and you swerve to the left to avoid it. Almost immediately, you hear sirens behind you.

You crossed the center line and that is reason enough for law enforcement to stop you. You aren’t too concerned, you’re fatigued, but not drunk. You pull lover, comply politely with the officer when he asks for your license and insurance.

And now what?

The officer asks if you have been drinking. You already know from our previous blogs that you don’t have to answer that question, so you invoke the Fifth amendment. The officer then asks you to exit the car for Field Sobriety Tests (FST). You wonder: do I have to do what he says?

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

In addition to measuring blood alcohol content, an officer may ask you to perform certain tests to determine whether you are driving intoxicated. These tests include: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. All of these tests evaluate your motor skills. Alcohol effects these areas.

Why you should say no

The results of FST’s are often dubious. Road conditions, medications and fatigue all play a part in failing these tests. Agreeing to them gives the prosecution more evidence against you, and more evidence for your attorney to refute.

Skilled attorneys are practiced in defeating these tests. Rather than essentially testifying against yourself, however, stay on the safe side, and just say no to FST.