We’ve all seen TV footage of police officers asking intoxicated drivers to walk a straight line or touch their nose with their finger. When you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), it’s likely that you’ll be asked to perform some of these tests – known as field sobriety tests – too. Here’s everything you need to know about field sobriety tests – and your rights.
Police officers use field sobriety tests as a key element in gathering evidence of intoxication to bring to court during a Los Angeles County DUI case. Field sobriety tests, or “FSTs,” are performed by the officer on the site of the arrest and can include everything from being asked to stand on one leg to reciting the alphabet or following a finger or flashlight with your eyes. These tests are performed with one intention and one alone – to prove that you were driving under the influence. In theory, however, these tests help an officer evaluate your alertness, coordination, balance, and ability to follow instructions and multitask.
What many Californians don’t know is that you are not required by law to participate in any field sobriety tests. While you may risk an angry police officer or an immediate arrest for refusing FSTs, it is well within your rights to do so. Your decision to take a field sobriety test might be influenced by the knowledge that these tests are rarely accurate and that even sober people often have a hard time performing them. In fact, a study performed by the National Traffic Safety Administration showed that only three common field sobriety tests – walk and turn, one-leg stand, and nystagmus (being asked to follow an object with your eyes) are effective in helping determine if a person is indeed driving drunk. Notwithstanding these facts, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to perform a barrage of FSTs during your time with the police.
The right Los Angeles County DUI defense attorney can evaluate the FSTs you were asked to perform and challenge their accuracy in court. They can also help protect you against accusations against drunkenness if you refused the field sobriety tests in an officer’s presence. Though you may face the police alone during a DUI pullover, don’t do so in court. Look for a DUI defense attorney with the skill and savvy it takes to help you keep your license. Contact The Law Offices of Stephen R. Brodsky today for a complimentary, confidential telephone consultation.