Impact of Field Sobriety Tests on Your DUI Case

It’s a sight no one wants to see on a Friday or Saturday night: your rearview mirror fills with the sight of flashing blue lights. You were confident enough that you could drive home safely, but that risk looks like it might not pay off. After you pull over and briefly interact with the officer, he asks you to step outside your car. You know that you might have to eventually blow into a breathalyzer. The field sobriety tests might come first, though. How do you handle these if you are pulled over for suspected DUI? This blog will provide you with a general overview of these tests and lets you know the consequences of refusing them. 

Three Recognized Field Sobriety Tests

You might know of several field sobriety tests that might be asked of those who have been pulled over. There are only three that are approved by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, however:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: the officer will ask you to hold your head still and follow a pen, pencil, or finger as he moves it horizontally and vertically in front of your face. The officer is looking for involuntary jerkings of your eyes. 
  • Standing on one leg: this is straightforward: the officer will ask you to raise one of your legs at least six inches off the ground and count backward from 30. The officer will look for signs that you are struggling to keep your balance. 
  • Walk-and-turn test: this is probably the most well-known of the field sobriety tests. This involves walking heel-to-toe along a straight line and, using one foot, turning and going the other way. The officer will look closely at your balance and coordination. 

Can You Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests?

Yes, you are well within your rights to refuse to perform field sobriety tests after getting pulled over for DUI. If you do, the officer will almost certainly take this as a clue that you do not want to incriminate yourself; as a result, you will likely be asked to perform a breath test. You also have the right to refuse to blow into a breathalyzer, but your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for 90 days. Still, is that better than a DUI conviction? That is for you to decide. 

If you decided to perform field sobriety tests after getting pulled over and performed poorly, your case is not hopeless. There are many ways that a skilled defense attorney can poke holes in your case and cast doubt on the officer’s administration of the field sobriety tests (or the tests themselves). Our firm can provide you with that legal help. Call us today at 256-233-2025 for an aggressive and thorough defense in and out of court.

John M. Totten