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How are field sobriety tests performed? Should they be taken? What could happen if I fail a field sobriety test?

Los Angeles, CA |

I recently obtained my driving license and expect to become an habitual driver starting this summer. I don't drink alcohol and do not consume illegal drugs. I know DUI charges are some of the most common courtroom misdemeanor cases. I do wonder if I can be arrested for failing a field sobriety test after obtaining a 0% reading in the PBT. I am not the athletic type and tend to be clumsy doing physical activities. I do not mind blowing in the PBT or doing urine or blood test. Since urine and blood test are usually done in the station, could police officers force me to take the field sobriety test? If officers are aggressively pushing me to take the FST, what should I do or how should I react to their actions?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Field sobriety tests are purely voluntary and will generally get you Into trouble that you may not deserve. Same with roadside breath tests. Same with answering questions without a lawyer. If you are under arrest take the State required blood test and see a DUI attorney...

  2. Performing field sobriety tests are not required by law and you can (politely) refuse to perform them. Of course, if you have not been drinking in the first instance, you will have little to worry about.

  3. CHP and other agencies will NEVER admit it, but about 35% or more of Field Sobriety Tests result in false positives. Mainly because the FSTs that have been proven useful are done under scientific conditions in a lab to validate them. Doing them by a non scientist at 3 AM on the side of a freeway is not exactly ...."ideal."

    No one is required to do the FSTs. All drivers imply consent to a chemical test if ARRESTED. The police often use the "results" of the FSTs as probable cause to arrest someone. Which even if the blood alcohol level comes out to be 0.0, makes for a bad night.

    I am not sure if this answers your concerns, but hopefully you have more to think about. If you have a specific concern, them contact a local attorney to discus this issue.

    Reliance on any information in this website is at the sole risk of the user and the user understands that he or she should consult with an attorney before taking a course of action based upon information contained in this website. The information on this website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

  4. Field tests are voluntary. If you are asked to get out of your car... Stop talking. If arrested demand a blood test.

    Of course, every DUI case is different and you should consult an experienced DUI defense attorney in your area with questions regarding your specific case. It is always in your best interest to have a good DUI attorney represent you when you have been arrested for a DUI.

  5. Politely and respectfully refuse to perform any "voluntary" tests. This includes FST's and the PAS or PBT. All of those are voluntary and nothing good can come from taking them.

    You would only have to submit to a blood or breath test (for evidential purposes) if you were to be arrested on suspicion of DUI.

    I am a NHTSA certified instructor for FST's and I can tell you that MOST police administer and evaluate them incorrectly. So don't do them. I wish more people educated themselves, as you are doing, prior to being in a sticky situation.

    You never ever consent to a search, never! Not of your car or your person or any belongings.

    Good luck to you!

    Troy Slaten, Esq. DUI Trial Lawyer

  6. Since you don't drink or use drugs you really don't have much to be afraid of. Before a police officer and ask you to perform a Field Sobriety Test (FST) they have to build probable cause. They have to see your driving is erratic, then when they pull you over you exhibit some sign(s) of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Then they can ask you to perform the FST's. I am a retired police officer and I cannot ever recall a situation where I required someone to perform these tests without probable cause. You need to be more concerned about becoming a good driver and watching out for the ones that are not!

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