Glenn R. Bruno, Esq.
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Field sobriety tests: 4 FAQs

The night was going really well until there were flashing lights in the rearview mirror. Getting pulled over for suspected drunk driving can be nerve-racking whether you’ve been drinking or not. It’s a situation that makes most people nervous but somehow the possibility that it could be a DWI makes it even worse.

Then there’s the field sobriety test. Some of these tests seem complicated even when you’re sober, not to mention after a couple drinks.

Here are a few FAQs on field sobriety tests

What is implied consent? What does it mean for field sobriety tests?

In New York there are implied consent laws which means that you consented to tests like this by getting behind the wheel of a car. While it is possible to refuse the test, when you got into the car to drive, you made the agreement to submit to the test.

Should I refuse to take a field sobriety test?

The short answer here is, no. A field sobriety test is very subjective. Even when everything goes the way it should, there are still differences between the way you might perform and the way another person might perform. All of this is up to the officer to interpret when determining whether to do a chemical test.

That subjectivity is to your advantage. There are several arguments that can be made to defend the result of your test and the interpretation of that test.

What happens if I refuse the test?

If you refuse to take the field sobriety test, the officer will have probable cause to take you to the police station to take a chemical test. While a chemical test can have its flaws, there is much less room for interpretation. A more objective, chemical test, is going to be more difficult to defend in court.

What if I fail?

The reality is that you probably will fail. Some of the standard field sobriety are difficult to perform even when completely sober. There are also any number of things that could go wrong with the way the officer administers the test. These are all things that are helpful in defending you against a DWI.

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