Being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving is never a fun experience. Typically, police officers ask a series of questions to drivers suspected of driving under the influence, including “Have you had anything to drink tonight?” Regardless of the answer, the officer may ask the subject to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests are supposed to assess a person’s intoxication level. However, medical problems, injuries, and even obesity can prevent a person from completing field sobriety tests accurately.
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
Field sobriety tests are physical actions that a person suspected of driving under the influence may be asked to perform. There are several different tests. One requires the person to stand on one foot without falling over. Another requires the person to stare at a moving object while the officer assesses the driver for signs of “horizontal gaze nystagmus,” an involuntary eye movement indicative of intoxication. Sometimes officers ask the driver to recite the alphabet or count numbers backwards to assess their cognitive functioning.
Are Field Sobriety Tests an Accurate Assessment of Intoxication?
Field sobriety tests can be useful but they are not perfect. It is completely possible for someone to fail a field sobriety test while sober. Medical problems that affect a person’s balance and coordination, physical disabilities, obesity, and anxiety can interfere with a person’s ability to complete a field sobriety test.
Failing a field sobriety test does not automatically mean a person will be convicted of drunk driving. To convict someone, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was too intoxicated to drive safely.
Do I Have to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
Police officers may make it seem as if a field sobriety test is mandatory. However, Illinois drivers do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. Refusing a breath or blood alcohol test after a DUI arrest leads to suspension of the person’s driver’s license. However, there are no administrative or criminal consequences for refusing a field sobriety test. That being said, refusing a test does not stop the officer from placing you under arrest and taking you to the police station. Often, field sobriety tests are used to justify a drunk driving arrest. If an officer asks you to complete a field sobriety test, he or she probably already thinks you are drunk driving.
Contact a McHenry County Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one were arrested for driving under the influence, contact our Crystal Lake DUI defense lawyers for help. Call Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC at 815-338-3838 for a free consultation.