Field Sobriety Tests
Bakersfield DUI Lawyers Setting Things Straight
One of the first things a highway patrol officer in California is going
to ask you to do after they pull you over on suspicion of driving under
the influence (DUI) will be to try to test your reflexes and coordination through a series
of field sobriety tests (FST). Why do they want you to complete these
FSTs? The brutally honest answer is so that they can arrest you.
You are only pulled over when you are suspected of a DUI crime, not because
they know for certain you have committed one. If you submit to an FST
and fail it, you may be handing all the evidence the officer needs to
arrest and charge you right to them. To protect yourself, your reputation,
and your future freedoms, you need to know more about field sobriety tests
and your rights regarding them.
Need to know more about FSTs right away? Call 661.735.1038 to talk to our
Bakersfield DUI lawyers.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
California highway patrol officers – sometimes referred to as CHiPs
– will typically use one or more of a few standardized field sobriety
tests. Each of these is meant to gauge your motor control, reflexes, and
general sobriety. In almost all circumstances, you will want to refuse
taking any FSTs they request.
Four of the most common FSTs you may encounter include:
Standing on one leg: The officer will tell you to balance on one leg for an extended period
of time, usually for a minute or more.
Walking a straight line: You will be instructed to walk a straight line by putting one foot directly
in front of the other, an unnatural gait to be sure.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: Not many people know the technical term for this test, but they know what
it is: the officer shines a bright light in your eyes and tell you to
follow the end of a pen with just your pupils.
Breathalyzer: Small breathalyzer machines the police often carry on their persons can
technically be considered field sobriety tests, not chemical tests.
Why Should You Refuse?
Every type of field sobriety test is purely subjective. There is nothing
about how they are conducted that is based on solid science, and yet you
can be arrested just for failing one. For example, the angle or condition
of the road might make it difficult for anyone to walk a straight line
sober. Perhaps your nerves were rattled from the stress of being pulled
over so you stumbled while standing on one leg?
The criminal justice system even knows that FSTs cannot be trusted by allowing
people to refuse them without immediate consequence. If you are asked
to take a field sobriety test, you should calmly tell the officer that
you would like to evoke your right to refuse, keeping in mind that you
should not make a statement without your attorney present. If they claim
you will be taken back to the station for chemical testing, comply.
Remember: refusing to take a chemical test will cause an immediate revocation
of your driver’s license through the Department of Motor Vehicle’s
jurisdiction, not the criminal justice system. This revocation cannot
be contested by even the best of DUI attorneys.
Dial 661.735.1038 for Responsive, Intelligent Representation
The results of a field sobriety test are not set in stone. One of the
quick-thinking, hard-hitting Bakersfield DUI attorneys from our law firm
may be able to challenge it, and all the other elements of your charges.
We can even bring the validity of chemical tests – such as blood,
breath, or urine tests – into question, as the slightest miscalibration
of the machine can skew the results unfairly. The sooner you
, the sooner we can get started defending you.