Dealing with DUI

Understanding Field Sobriety Tests (SFST's)

The use of field sobriety tests (FSTs) is a way to help officers determine if a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They use these tests to determine a person's divided attention. The field Sobriety tests are set up to determine a persons divided attention by requiring them to use both mental and physical tasks at the same time therefore enabling the officer to see if the person is impaired by being intoxicated.

An officer has several different field sobriety tests to help them decide if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs for a DUI. Below are some examples of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that are recognized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):

  • The walk-and-turn (WAT) test
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test
  • Vertical gaze nystagmus (VGN) test
  • The one-leg-stand (OLS) test

Below are some examples of Non-Standardized Field Sobriety tests that are not recognized by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). They are often used as a method by the police officer to gather evidence and help them look for a probable cause to arrest a person suspected of driving under the influence (DUI).

  • The finger-to-nose test
  • The finger count test
  • Rhomberg modified test
  • ABC's
  • Coin Tricks

Know your rights
It is important for people to know their rights. You DO NOT have to legally agree to take the Field Sobriety tests. There is no law that requires you to take the Field Sobriety Tests. Because the information provided from the tests is considered voluntary on your part the officer does not legally have to advise you of your Mirada rights before taking a field sobriety test. The Miranda warning starts out: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you can and will say will be held against you in a court of law."

Since the Miranda vs. Arizona case in 1963 before any applicable questioning of someone who is suspected of a crime the officer is required to recite the Miranda warning. Most of the time people feel they can prove their innocence to the police officer by passing the tests. When asked to take the tests you have two choices: to agree and give the officer added evidence to convict you of a DUI, or to say "No, thank you I do not want to take your tests."

You cannot be charged for not taking a Field Sobriety Test and they cannot hold it against you in court. If it gets to a point where you need an attorney to fight for your rights in defending yourself against a DUI, having not taken the Field Sobriety Tests will actually help you increase your chances of winning your case. Most likely if they smell alcohol or are under the impression that you are driving under the Influence (DUI) they will arrest you. It is your choice and right if you want them to have the extra evidence to help them convict you of a DUI by agreeing to do the Field Sobriety Tests. If you are faced with the unfortunate situation of being arrested for a suspected DUI consult a local professional for help!