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Your Rights During a Field Sobriety Test

Being pulled over by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of driving while intoxicated can be frightening, stressful, and intimidating, even if you are completely sober and have done nothing wrong. One of the first things the officer might do is ask you to perform various field sobriety tests, which you might feel obligated to do. These tests are absolutely not required by law and are, in fact, optional. However, if he or she asks you to take a breathalyzer test, the law requires your compliance.

What is a Field Sobriety Test?

Field sobriety tests are used to determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest a person for drunk driving. While there are several different types of these tests, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration advises the following three types:

  • Walk and turn: For this test, the officer will ask that you walk a straight line, taking nine steps with the heel of one foot touching the toe of the other foot, then turning and taking another nine steps to return to the starting point.

  • One-leg stand: You will be asked to raise one leg about six inches off the ground and count upwards, starting at 1,000 all the way up to 1,030. You cannot sway or show signs of imbalance.

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will hold a pen about a foot away from you and watch your eyes follow the pen. If your eyes twitch or jerk around, the officer might infer that you have been drinking.

These tests are not scientifically proven to determine whether or not a person has been drinking, but if you consent to take them, they will be used as evidence against you nonetheless. Generally, an officer will not ask you to perform these tests unless he or she is already planning to arrest you, so you are not going to gain anything by taking them. Instead, politely decline this request.

If you did consent to take a field sobriety test and were arrested, remember that these tests have no scientific basis, and part of your attorney’s defense will be to challenge their reliability.

West Palm Beach DUI Attorney

If you were pulled over by a law enforcement officer for suspicion of driving under the influence and subsequently arrested, you need to hire a skilled West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. At Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A., our legal team will fight to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

Reach out to us today at (561) 349-4865 to speak with an experienced defense attorney.

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