What do you know about field sobriety tests? You can probably tell that police officers use them to look for signs of driving under the influence, or DUI, but did you know they’re designed to give officers enough justification to arrest you? Police need “probable cause” before they can legally arrest you, and field sobriety tests allow them to observe your behavior to find signs of intoxication. There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about these tests, so keep reading to set the facts straight and inform your next interaction with police in Savannah, Georgia and the surrounding areas.
Myth 1: Field sobriety tests are mandatory.
“I need to have you step back here and do a few tests before we can get you back on the road.” The way police officers talk, it’s easy to assume that you have to do a field sobriety test when asked. Although they won’t tell you unless you specifically ask, the truth is that field sobriety tests are totally voluntary. You’re well within your rights to refuse the test without fear of legal repercussions.
Myth 2: Field sobriety tests are based on scientific proof.
As a matter of fact, field sobriety tests don’t hold up against the scientific method, especially since they are very subjective. There is little scientific correlation between impaired driving and a failed test. According to several independent studies, the three most common sobriety tests have also been shown to have high error rates.
Myth 3: Field sobriety tests are accurate and reliable.
Many field sobriety tests are designed to divide your attention and gauge your physical balance and coordination. Although bad coordination can sometimes be taken as a sign of intoxication, it’s not reliable enough on its own. For instance, you could easily fail the test of walking heel-to-toe because you’re nervous, wearing high heels, injured or disabled, or just a clumsy person.
Myth 4: My age, weight, and other physical characteristics don’t matter.
Not true. Elderly people will generally have more difficulty with the test, and one study showed that people over 40 failed the test 50% more. Similarly, people who are overweight may have more trouble with balance on tests like the one-leg-stand and the walk-and-turn.
Myth 5: If I refuse a field sobriety test, I will be automatically arrested.
The truth depends on your situation. You cannot legally be arrested simply for refusing these voluntary tests. The officer must find other reasons to arrest you. Even if you are arrested, however, your refusal alone is not enough evidence to convict you of DUI.
Myth 6: It’s better to take the test and be cooperative.
Even if you have complete confidence in your ability to pass the test, there are still plenty of ways to fail. It all depends on the particular officer’s assessment of your performance. It’s natural to want to cooperate with police, but keep in mind that a failure can look worse than a refusal in court.
Remember, an arrest is not a conviction. If you’ve been arrested on DUI charges, you should get in touch with a lawyer right away. The skilled attorneys at Savannah DUI will be able to analyze your unique situation and provide you with specialized legal advice. Contact us today for the best possible chance at avoiding fines, jail time, and a black mark on your record.