Are You Required to Take a Field Sobriety Test?

Police officers in California use the standardized field sobriety tests to help determine if a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. But the problem with these tests is that they are not always reliable and could be used as evidence of impaired driving even when a motorist is not guilty of this offense.

Similar to learning to ride a bicycle, these tests require practice not to mention trying them for the first time while being interrogated and subject to being arrested. This leads many people pulled over for drunk driving to wonder if it is in their best interest to take a field sobriety test.

Do motorists have to take field sobriety tests?

Motorists pulled over on DUI suspicion are not required to take a field sobriety test in California. Drivers who refuse these tests may be making a wise decision since test results may become evidence against them without much possibility of benefit. Individuals who face negative consequences after deciding to take a field sobriety test may need the help of a lawyer experienced with arguing against the science behind these test results.

What happens when a motorist refuses to take the test?

There are no penalties for motorists who refuse to take a field sobriety test. However, officers at the scene may try to convince the motorist that taking the test is the best decision they can make as the refusal to do so will almost always result in an arrest. The reality is that the vast majority of people fail these tests regardless of whether they are over the legal limit while driving. The important thing is for a motorist facing this situation to understand their rights and act accordingly.

Are field sobriety tests accurate?

One problem with field sobriety tests is that sober people can fail these tests. Field sobriety tests are not completely accurate. Many motorists who are innocent of alcohol and/or drug impairment face mistreatment and arrest due to inaccurate test results.

Cause for field sobriety test challenges

The percentage of false positives associated with field sobriety testing is a definite cause for concern. The basis of past successful arguments against field sobriety testing results include:

  • The mental and physical condition of the motorist at the time of testing
  • Excessive movement from the officer
  • Clothing worn by the motorists
  • Poor testing procedure
  • Poor environmental conditions
  • Effects of prescription medications
  • Exhaustion

Accusations for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause significant damage to a motorist’s life. A criminal lawyer is necessary and will prove useful for individuals who need to defend themselves against DUI charges.