If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of a law enforcement officer asking you to take a field sobriety test, should you agree to take it?
According to Alcohol Problems and Solutions, lawyers across the country advise against taking this test for two main reasons: 1) no state’s law requires you to take it, and 2) you could easily fail one or more of its parts.
One test; three parts
Yes, the standard field sobriety test is actually three tests as follows:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test in which the officer tracks and measures your eye movements while he or she waves a small object, such as a pencil or flashlight, in front of your eyes
- The walk-and-turn test in which the officer requests you to walk nine steps forward, turn, and walk nine steps back, all heel-to-toe and all without losing your balance
- The one-legged-stand test in which the officer requests you to stand on one foot for at least 30 seconds without losing your balance
Factors affecting your ability to pass
Many factors, including the following, can cause you to fail one or more parts of the test:
- Your age or weight may make it difficult for you to see or balance.
- You may have mobility issues that make it difficult for you to walk.
- You may have a chronic illness or condition, such as diabetes, that makes it difficult for you to complete the tests satisfactorily.
- You are at the officer’s mercy, both with respect to administering the tests and evaluating them.
Given all of the above, you would do well to politely refuse to take the field sobriety test any time an officer asks you to do so.