Should you take a field sobriety test?

Noticing police patrol car lights flashing in your rearview mirror might make your blood pressure rise and heart rate soar. No one likes to think about getting pulled over in a traffic stop. However, when you know that's what's happening, your train of thought must shift to how the situation might unfold. Perhaps the officer will issue a warning for you to slow down.

Then again, he or she might ask you to exit your vehicle. If you hear that request, it's definitely not a good sign. In fact, it usually means that the officer in question suspects you of a crime, likely drunk driving. It's critical that you try to remain calm and comply in a polite and respectful manner. It's also important to know your rights and how to protect them.

What is the purpose of a field sobriety test?

When a police officer makes a traffic stop, he or she must have a reason to do so. You are entitled to ask what that reason happens to be. The officer cannot arrest you, however, unless there is probable cause, which is where field sobriety tests come in regarding possible drunk driving.

Most police use field sobriety tests to determine if they have probable cause to make a DUI arrest. In West Virginia, Kentucky and all other states, you are under no legal obligation to take these tests. You may refuse. However, most drivers think it's best to cooperate.

These tests are standardized

When police administer field sobriety tests, they typically follow the same protocol, ask the same questions and use the same guidelines to make determinations each and every time. In fact, whether you're in Kentucky or another state, a field sobriety test will be much the same. 

That doesn't mean you can predict results, however. While there are standard guidelines, a police officer has the discretion to issue a pass or failing grade according to his or her personal interpretation of your test performance.

Issues that may impede your ability to perform well

If you have a past injury, an eye condition or some other medical issue, it might make taking a field sobriety test quite challenging. Even if you're perfectly sober at the time, if you are clumsy by nature, for instance, you might have trouble performing the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand tests. 

Such tests require good balance and agility. An officer is also checking to see how well you remember and follow a series of instructions. If you're the type of person who forgets things as soon as you hear them, you might not fare so well in a field sobriety check. 

If a police officer arrests you

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you against unlawful searches and seizures. The Fifth Amendment protects your right to remain silent without legal representation present when investigators wish to interrogate you.

If someone violates your personal rights, you may have several options to issue a challenge in court. Sometimes, such situations prompt judges to dismiss cases before they ever get to trial. Most DUI defendants request legal guidance as soon as possible after police make an arrest.

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Jon has received several honors for his work by his peers and the legal community.

One Of America's Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys: In 2019, Jon D. Hoover was selected among America's Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys. Attorneys must be invited for selection. Invitations are reserved to identify the nation’s most exceptional litigators for high-value personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice matters. With high standards for selection, less than 0.5 percent of active attorneys in the United States receive this honor.

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