Field Sobriety Tests

The officer will ask you to step out of your car and request that you do some field sobriety tests. These tests are voluntary and you should exercise your Fifth Amendment privilege and politely decline to participate. There are several reasons for this advice. The field sobriety tests are extremely subjective. The officers are trained on these tests and administer them all the time. The officer will be familiar with the instructions they are giving – but the instructions, demonstrations & expectations will be new to you. It is a lose-lose situation: any slight misstep, mistake, or even beginning the test before being instructed to start will result in the officer’s determination that you are “intoxicated.”

There are two different stages of chemical testing. The first is a roadside breath test known as a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) device. If you are on probation for a DUI conviction or are under 21, you must submit to that roadside PAS device test. Otherwise the PAS test is just another field sobriety test which you should decline. If the officer develops probable cause to arrest you, then you are required by law to submit to a chemical test by providing a sample of your breath or blood. Breath can be more easily attacked in court and there is a built-in margin of error that may work in your favor. However, breath is not preserved. You cannot retest a breath sample. Breath samples after arrest are usually taken at the police station.

If you choose to provide a sample of your blood, you have a right to have the sample retested by an independent laboratory to determine the accuracy of the government’s test results. If you refuse the chemical test after being lawfully arrested for DUI, your privilege to drive will be suspended by the DMV, the officer can still force blood from you, and the test results may be used against you in court.