The problem with field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2020 | DUI Defense

If a police officer pulls you over and suspects you of drunk driving, he or she will more than likely ask you to participate in field sobriety tests. If you choose to do so, you could end up giving the officer the probable cause needed to place you under arrest.

You should know that you aren’t legally obligated to participate in these tests — and for good reason. One-third of sober individuals will fail the tests. You read that right. People who have not had any alcoholic beverages can also fail these tests.

Why do even sober people fail?

One primary reason why so many people, even sober drivers, fail field sobriety tests is the subjectivity of the officer administering the tests. His or her opinion regarding your performance determines whether you pass or fail. Considering the fact that the officer suspects you of drinking and driving already, that opinion is not in your favor from the start. Moreover, officers use these tests to establish probable cause, so it works in the officer’s favor if you fail.

Other reasons why you may fail these tests even if sober have to do with your physical health and your surroundings. For example, if you have an inner ear infection, a bad back or some other physical ailment, you will probably fail the tests. In addition, the ground could be uneven, traffic may limit your ability to hear the officer and other environmental factors could interfere with your ability to successfully complete the tests.

Don’t let the officer influence your choice

No one wants to get on the bad side of a police officer, so you may be tempted to simply comply with his or her request and take the tests. However, doing so could end up working against you. The officer will probably try to tell you that you must participate, that you could prove you aren’t impaired, or that you could convince him or her that you can drive home safely. Don’t let these arguments influence your decision because you are the one who loses if you do.

You need to know that the officer may still arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving even if you politely refuse to participate in field sobriety tests. He or she may find other reasons to establish probable cause. However, by not taking part in these tests, you aren’t giving the officer any additional alleged evidence against you.

Seek out support as soon as possible

You have rights, and they need protecting. If you do find yourself under arrest, regardless of whether you participated in field sobriety tests, it would probably be in your best interests to contact a Florida attorney.