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Four Things You Didn't Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Posted on in Criminal Defense

In order for law enforcement to arrest you and charge you with driving under the influence, they must establish “probable cause” which is a legal standard for a confirmed suspicion that a crime (driving under the influence) has actually been committed. Many people know about field sobriety tests, but few people actually truly understand them and what they mean. It turns out these sobriety tests are far from perfect and that means they could actually work to your benefit in your DUI case. Here are four things you probably didn’t know about field sobriety tests.

You Don’t Have to Take Them

You’ve probably heard of the “implied consent” law which states you agree to consent to a BAC test, however what most people don’t realize is this law doesn’t apply before you’re arrested. Field sobriety tests are entirely optional, and you may decline to participate in them. However, just because you decline doesn’t mean officers can’t establish probable cause and won’t choose to arrest you anyway.

An Officer Doesn’t Have to Offer one To You

Were you stopped by an officer and arrested straight away without so much as them even asking you to track their finger? In some cases, officers don’t even really need to take extra steps to establish probable cause. If you present enough evidence that you are driving drunk before they even ask you to partake in a sobriety test, they can arrest you on the spot.

There are Only Three Approved Field Sobriety Tests

People have heard stories of officers asking intoxicated individuals to do all sorts of things, however there are only three approved field sobriety tests: the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Any other field sobriety tests that may have led to your arrests are likely riddled with errors that could lead to a false conclusion and therefore an unlawful arrest.

Field Sobriety Tests are Wildly Inaccurate

Similar to the previous point, even though these tests have been standardized, they are still prone to confirmation bias and other forms of human error that can lead to unreliable results. A NHTSA and Southern California Research Institute study found that the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the most accurate of the three approved tests, was only successful 77% of the time—that’s an error in just over one out of every five tests! When multiple tests are used, their accuracy increases, but so does the possibility of human error discrediting test results.

If you have been arrested, let a Plano DUI attorney help you fight back against your charges. Consult with The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. today by calling 214-544-0061.

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