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What You Need to Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Posted on : March 25, 2016, By:  Brian Kelley
Mississippi DUI Attorney

Being stopped for a DUI can leave you reeling, especially when the officer who stopped you uses intimidation tactics. Often, officers will ask people to complete field sobriety tests to determine if they are impaired. It’s important that you understand what these tests are and under what circumstances they can be declined.

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

These standardized tests are used by law enforcement officers all over the country to help determine if a driver has been driving impaired. The standardized tests include:

  • The walk and turn test. The officer will ask you to walk on a straight line, turn in place, and walk back again on the straight line.
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The officer will ask you to look at an object, possibly a light, and will be judging if your eyes “shake” — a condition called nystagmus.
  • The one leg stand test. The officer will ask you to stand on one leg, with your other leg straight out and lifted just a few feet above the ground.

Unfortunately, these tests do very little to actually ascertain whether a person has been drinking or not. Many people fail these tests for various reasons, including poor balance, fatigue, or being on certain medications. Even though they are highly unreliable, judges and juries still look at them as good proof of whether or not a driver was impaired at the time of the stop.

Can I Decline Field Sobriety Testing?

What most people don’t know is that field sobriety testing is completely voluntary. You are not required by law to complete any field sobriety tests. Politely let the officer know that you are exercising your right to decline field sobriety testing. Although the officer will likely ask you to complete a BAC test, either by breathalyzer or by providing a blood sample, you do not have to complete field sobriety tests. Declining the tests cannot be used against you as proof you were intoxicated.

Contact the Law Office of J. Brian Kelley Today

If you’ve been arrested on a DUI charge, it’s important that you contact a drunk driving attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. At the Law Office of J. Brian Kelley, we will aggressively defend you against drunk driving charges and do everything within our power to fight for your rights. Call today at (662) 324-3476.

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