When a police officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer will probably ask you to perform a field sobriety test.
Many people have misconceptions about these tests and how they can impact a DUI case.
Myth 1: They are scientific
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes three official tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and one-leg stand. However, many other tests exist, such as reciting the alphabet backward, and many police departments use them despite the lack of scientific research backing them up.
Even the official tests can produce false results. For example, many overweight people can not perform the walk-and-turn test. Regardless of the test, there is always a significant chance that a drunk person may pass or a sober person may fail.
Myth 2: Passing the tests will prove your innocence
During a traffic stop, you might assume that performing the tests to the officer’s satisfaction will prove that you are sober. However, this assumption does not account for bias.
If the officer asks you to submit to a field sobriety test, it is because the officer already believes you are under the influence. The officer is seeking confirmation of what he or she already believes to be true.
Myth 3: You have to consent to them
When you get behind the wheel of your car, implied consent applies. However, implied consent only applies to tests that measure your BAC. There is no law that requires you to participate in a field sobriety test.
False assumptions can have consequences for your DUI case. Know the facts when faced with a DUI arrest.