Field Sobriety Tests and Your DUI Case

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges in Arizona are serious and can remain on your permanent record throughout your life. Additionally, a DUI conviction in Arizona can include substantial fines, the suspension of a driver’s license, and jail time. If you, a friend, or a family member has been arrested for a DUI, contact and experienced DUI attorney to understand your rights, especially if you submitted to a field sobriety test.

Field Sobriety Tests

When a motorist is stopped on a roadway by a police officer under the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, law enforcement may carry out a series of preliminary roadside tests called field sobriety tests.
The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established these specific field sobriety tests as a way for law enforcement to determine if motorists were impaired due to drugs or alcohol while operating a motor vehicle.
In order to administer these tests, law enforcement must have consent from the driver. A drive is under no obligation to agree to submit to these tests. These physical field sobriety tests are used by police officers to make a decision in the field whether or not a driver is impaired due to the use of alcohol or drugs. The three standard types of field sobriety tests are as follows:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (determines if there is jerking of eyes when tracking objects)
  • Walk and Turn Test (determines balance and the ability to follow instructions)
  • One Leg Stand Test (determines balance)

Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests

The accuracy of field sobriety tests has always been in question, and can never be used alone to convict someone of a DUI. Field sobriety tests are only as reliable and accurate as the police officers that administer them. Certain factors are significant to ensuring the accuracy of a field sobriety test including, the location, lighting, traffic and noise, weather, age and weight of motorist, any medical conditions of the motorist, language barriers, how the instructions were given, and if the officer evaluated the test properly.

Refusal to Take a Field Sobriety Test in Arizona

In Arizona, you have a legal right to refuse to take the administered field sobriety tests from law enforcement. In most cases, a police officer has determined whether they will make an arrest for a DUI based on behavior. Refusal to take a field sobriety test may not change that you may be taken to the police station for suspicion of driving under the influence. A police officer has the right to arrest a person without a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test.

Contact a DUI Attorney

If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to know that any breathalyzer, blood work, or field sobriety tests you take can be used against you in a DUI case. If you are unsure how your field sobriety test will affect your case, contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to help you understand your legal rights.
Our firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is a leading defense lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. Her aggressive representation and client services set our firm apart from the rest. You can discuss your case with us by calling (602) 888-0369 or by sending a message through the firm’s request form today.