Should you ever take a field sobriety test?

Should you ever take a field sobriety test?

Should you ever take a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of The Law Office of Michael D. Cleaves, PLLC |

If a law enforcement officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may well ask you to take a field sobriety test to confirm his or her suspicions. Should you agree to take this test?

The answer is a resounding NO. Not only does North Carolina law not require you to take this test, but Alcohol Problems and Solutions points out that doing so is against your best interests because you stand a good chance of failing one or more of its three parts even though completely sober.

The 3-part test

Actually, the field sobriety test consists of three separate tests as follows:

  1. Horizontal gaze nystagmus test that measures your eye movements while the officer waves a small object in front of your face
  2. Walk and turn test that requires you to walk toe-to-heel nine steps forward and back without losing your balance
  3. One-legged stand test that requires you to stand on one foot only for at least 30 seconds, again without losing your balance

Factors affecting your performance

If you have difficulty maintaining your balance under the best of circumstances, you can easily see why you likely will fail the walk and turn test and the one-legged stand test. Other factors that could cause you to perform poorly include the following:

  • Your age and weight
  • Your ability to see clearly
  • Your ability to walk
  • Any underlying chronic condition you have, such as diabetes
  • The subjectivity of the officer both in administering the tests and scoring them

Given that the field sobriety test is strictly voluntary on your part, common sense dictates that you politely decline to take it.

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