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Don't Be Made a Spectacle: Your Rights in Regards to Field Sobriety Tests


If you've been pulled over by the police and the officer suspects you may be under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, you may be asked to perform a field sobriety test. Many unsuspecting drivers have the misimpression that as long as they perform well enough on the test, that they will be free to leave. This is a mistake. The purpose of a field sobriety test from the officer's point of view is to gather evidence to aid in their prosecution for drunk or drugged driving. These tests may be taped by the officer's dash cam or on film down at the station, but not necessarily so. These tests can be humiliatingly public, as you are asked to perform for the police while dozens of drivers drive by the spot where you are performing the tests.

Some of the most common field sobriety tests include walking nine steps in a straight line and turning, touching the index finger to the nose with eyes closed, standing on one leg for 30 seconds, or reciting the alphabet. These tests have no medical or scientific standards and are judged almost exclusively by the police officer asking you to perform the test. Even a seemingly miniscule deviation from the instructions given can constitute a failure of the test. In the case of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN), this test has been seen to be so unreliable as to be inadmissible in a prosecution for DUI.

You are under no requirement to perform any field sobriety tests. My recent post on blood and breathalyzer tests outlines your requirements as far as submitting to chemical testing, but there is no legal compulsion for you to perform a field sobriety test. I generally do not recommend it. Don't allow false confidence, pride, or goading by officers to compel you to perform a field sobriety test as this is possible evidence that will be used against you in court.

Attorney Frank Walker has been committed to the defense of those accused of driving under the influence for more than seven years. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, please contact our office for a consultation. Attorney Walker can help you fight the case, press for reduced charges, a lower sentence, or even potential dismissal if appropriate. Call our office today at (412) 532-6805 to set up an appointment.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.