What happens during a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2024 | Dui |

If police officers suspect that someone is under the influence, they need verifiable evidence to prove their suspicions. Video footage recorded by police vehicle cameras can sometimes help show that someone drove poorly.

Of course, bad driving isn’t necessarily the result of alcohol intoxication. Someone may have swerved because there was a bee in their car. A police officer needs to gather additional evidence to justify arresting someone for a drunk driving offense. They may administer field sobriety tests as a way to gauge someone’s chemical state and gather evidence against them.

What typically transpires when police officers administer field sobriety tests?

Drivers exit their vehicles and perform specific tasks

Field sobriety testing involves an officer instructing someone to perform certain tasks. There are three different tests recognized as standard during field sobriety testing. Officers may ask people to walk in a straight line, turn completely around and walk back along the same line. They may ask someone to stand on one leg. They may also instruct someone to follow their finger or a small object from side to side with their eyes without moving their heads.

These tests help gauge someone’s chemical state. They can also give an officer the probable cause needed to arrest someone and request a chemical test.

Field sobriety tests are optional

Contrary to what many people believe, field sobriety testing is not compulsory. Police officers cannot force someone to perform field sobriety tests. They also do not have the right to arrest someone for declining to perform those tests. Drivers who recognize that personal medical challenges might affect their performance on tests could tell officers that they politely refuse.

In some cases, a defense strategy for those facing drunk driving charges focuses on explaining their performance during field sobriety tests. Other times, a defense attorney might question whether a traffic stop was illegal. They could also ask to exclude test results if officers administered non-standard tests or failed to record video footage of field sobriety tests.

Drivers facing drunk driving allegations may need help finding the right way to respond after an arrest. There are a variety of defense tactics that could work for someone accused of intoxication at the wheel. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to learn more.

FindLaw Network