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Your Right to Decline Field Sobriety Testing

Criminal Defense & Family Lawyers
Posted on : August 24, 2016

One of the most common things seen on TV and in movies when depicting a drunk driving scenario is a police officer asking the intoxicated individual to step out of the car and complete roadside sobriety tests, or field sobriety tests. Many people believe these tests are mandatory, however, they aren’t. Here’s how you can decline field sobriety testing and protect your rights during a DWI traffic stop.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety testing typically consists of three tests designed to indicate whether or not the driver is intoxicated at the time of the stop. These tests usually include the walk and turn test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one leg stand test. If the driver is unable to follow the officer’s instructions or is not able to complete these tests to the officer’s satisfaction, the officer may use this as evidence that the driver is intoxicated and may make an arrest.

Why Decline Them?

Field sobriety tests are terribly inaccurate in most cases and rely more on the officer’s observations and beliefs than they do on actual science. There are a great number of issues that can affect field sobriety test results, including being fatigued or taking prescribed medication, having certain medical conditions, or even the officer providing confusing or incomplete instructions. Declining a field sobriety test may be more beneficial to your case, even if you are arrested, than performing them, whether you are actually intoxicated at the time of the arrest or not.

How to Decline Them

No officer is going to be happy to hear that the person he or she pulled over is declining to submit to testing that has been requested. However, don’t let fear and intimidation cause you to give up your rights. Politely inform the officer that you understand that you have the right to decline field sobriety testing and you wish to invoke that right. Do not be rude and above all, maintain respect for the officer while upholding your rights under the law.

Who to Call After Being Arrested

In some cases, an officer will make an arrest anyways, even if the driver has declined field sobriety testing. If you were arrested for a DWI, it’s important that you contact an experienced attorney to defend you as soon as possible, while the state is busy mounting evidence against you. Call Schwartz & Krysinski, L.L.P. today for a consultation at 718-643-9333.

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