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Are field sobriety tests voluntary?

| Apr 21, 2021 | DWI/DUI |

New York police officers that suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol will ask him or her to undergo a field sobriety test. These are commonly used to help an officer determine whether a driver shows symptoms of intoxication. If a driver does appear to be intoxicated, the officer will likely arrest that person.

Field sobriety tests are not mandatory

While getting pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI can be extremely nerve-wracking, you need to remember your rights. Under no law do you have to participate in a field sobriety test. These tests are requested by an officer to help him or her verify his or her suspicion of your driving under the influence. You don’t want to participate in these tests and give them more evidence against you.

What are some common field sobriety tests?

There are three main types of field sobriety tests that officers will ask drivers to take. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is the first. During this test, the officer watches the movements of the driver’s eyes from side to side to determine if there is any jerking of the eye. Studies have shown that when there’s jerking present, the driver is intoxicated.

The walk-and-turn test is another common type of field sobriety test. During this test, the driver is asked to walk from heel to toe for 9 to 10 steps and then turn on one foot and return in the same manner. People who are intoxicated typically are not able to maintain their balance throughout this test. The last field sobriety test that many officers use is the one-leg stand. The driver is to stand on one leg and count for 30 seconds. If the driver sways intensely to maintain balance, he or she is likely intoxicated.

As a driver, it’s important to understand what your rights are regarding field sobriety tests and DUI/DWI charges. While an officer may make it seem like you must take a field sobriety test, it is completely voluntary. Most lawyers will recommend that you politely decline to take these tests as the evidence can simply be used against you later.