You got together with the gang from work and tossed back a few drinks with the happy hour crowd. You knew you probably shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel for the drive home, but you decided to tempt fate anyway.
By the time you saw those blue lights behind you, your luck had already run out. Now, the police officer is asking you to perform some field sobriety tests there at the scene. Should you try to bluff your way through them? Are you even allowed to decline to take field sobriety tests?
There’s never a good reason to take a field sobriety test
The police officer will not tell you this, and they may even imply these roadside tests are mandatory. But don’t be fooled. Your participation is entirely voluntary and should be avoided entirely. For one thing, these tests are entirely subjective. If the officer suspects you have been drinking, even if you do well on the tests, they can allege that your performance was less than stellar. They will then arrest you for driving under the influence (DUI).
Other reasons to decline to participate
Many people couldn’t pass a field sobriety test on their best sober day. There are myriad medical conditions that make standing on one leg for 30 seconds utterly impossible. Ditto for the walk-and-turn test. Then, consider that you are likely only inches from traffic, possibly even fast-moving semitrucks that create gusts of wind and throw you off balance. You might not even hear or understand the cop’s instructions, especially if English is not your native tongue.
What about following a pen with your eyes?
It seems simple enough. Just follow the officer’s penlight flashlight with your eyes. But certain neurological and visual disorders can mimic the jerking motion of the eyes that will cause you to fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
You have a better option
If you get stopped for suspicion of DUI, politely decline the field sobriety tests and announce that you are exercising your right to remain silent until you have spoken to a criminal defense attorney.