Is it smart to refuse field sobriety tests?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2020 | Uncategorized |

There might not be a lot going on these days, and you may be among the many who are feeling bored. While you certainly have fewer opportunities to socialize lately, you may still enjoy an adult beverage from time to time. Unfortunately, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking is never a good idea. If police pull you over under suspicion of drunk driving, you may have more serious problems than boredom.

It is important that you understand your rights if you should find yourself facing a police officer who suspects you are intoxicated. One of the most common methods for determining your impairment is field sobriety tests. Many legal advisors recommend that drivers refuse to submit to field sobriety tests, and you may wonder if this is wise advice.

What increases the chances of failing?

Field sobriety tests typically include three activities. An officer may ask you to walk a straight line heel-to-toe, to follow the tip of a pen with your eyes and to stand on one foot while counting. These tests measure your ability to follow directions, your balance and the reaction of your eyes, any of which may decline after consuming alcohol. However, the results of field sobriety tests are often subjective and may be based on an imperfect test setting, including:

  • Uneven ground on which to walk or stand
  • Traffic rushing by, creating noise and distraction
  • The flashing lights of a patrol vehicle
  • Your age and weight
  • Your physical health, including arthritis or back pain that makes it difficult for you to walk
  • An ear infection, certain medications or other factors that may affect your balance
  • Your own nervousness, embarrassment and anxiety over the situation

These and numerous other factors may increase your chances of failing a field sobriety test even if you have not had a drop of alcohol or your blood alcohol concentration is below the Alabama legal limit of .08. In fact, one government study showed that when different officers watched videos of the same field sobriety tests, some of the officers scored the tests as passing and others failed the drivers. This demonstrates the subjective nature of the tests.

It is in your best interests to politely refuse to perform these tests, which will most certainly become evidence against you if police arrest you for drunk driving. Police may still arrest you, but you can improve your chances of a more positive outcome by seeking legal representation as soon as you are able.


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