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What to do during a field sobriety test

Few things are scarier than having a police officer pull you over and ask you to perform a field sobriety test. Even if you are not impaired, it can be intimidating to be in the presence of a police officer who is demanding that you complete complex tasks. If you fail these tests, you may face criminal charges for drunk driving

First, it is important to remember that not all field sobriety test results are accurate. Only between 81% and 91% of these tests provide reliable evidence of intoxication. Even if you fail a test, you may be able to challenge your charges. That being said, here are a few general suggestions for how to conduct yourself during a DWI stop.

Remain calm

Seeing the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, receiving questions from a police officer and having tests administered to you can be stressful. But if you let your nervousness get the best of you, you may make errors during the test even if you have not had a sip of alcohol. Take deep breaths, follow instructions and try to have confidence in yourself. 

Inform the officer of any relevant conditions and medications

Just because you fail a test does not necessarily guarantee you are illegally impaired. Many physical and mental conditions may impede your ability to successfully execute field sobriety tests, including the following:

  • Ear infections
  • Movement or skeletal disorders
  • Neurological injuries

Additionally, some medications may result in a false positive. Be upfront with the police officer about any of these factors so that he or she does not automatically assume you are drunk.

Do not say more than is necessary

While you may assume being friendly and talkative during a DWI stop will earn favor with the officer, you run the risk of creating suspicion or incriminating yourself. For example, if you say you had one beer – which may not even put you over the BAC limit – it may be enough to cause the officer to arrest you. 

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