If a Police Officer Asks You to Take a Field Sobriety Test What Should You Do?

field sobriety test

Although every traffic stops is unique, stops that are based on a suspicion that the driver has been drinking and driving tend to follow the same basic pattern. Therefore, if you are ever stopped for driving while intoxicated in New there is a good chance the officer will eventually ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests, or FSTs. If a police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test what should you do? Ultimately, only you can make that decision; however, a better understanding of FSTs as well as how they are used may help you make that decision.

During a typical traffic stop wherein the officer is suspicious that the motorist has been driving while intoxicated, or DWI, the officer will begin by asking the driver simple questions. This allows the officer the time needed to form an opinion as to whether or not the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If the officer remains or becomes suspicious, the officer will usually ask the driver to perform some field sobriety tests. The FSTs are used to judge a motorist's coordination, balance, and memory skills at the time. An officer could use a wide variety of FSTs; however, the three standardized FSTs include:

  • Walk and turn - requires a driver to walk, heel to toe, nine steps and then turn around and walk back.
  • One leg stand – requires the driver to stand on one leg with arms down for a count of 30 seconds.
  • HGN – looks for horizontal gaze nystagmus, or "twitching" in the eye which serves as a sign of alcohol or drug impairment.

Although the standardized FSTs have specific instructions and guidelines for determining if a motorist passed the test or not, at the end of the day the officer conducting the test makes a subjective determination whether or not the driver passed or failed the test. Because there are so many factors that can cause a motorist to fail the FSTs (including nerves alone), it is rare that a driver is released to go on about his or her way after performing FSTs. In summary, taking a field sobriety test rarely does anything more than provide an officer with additional evidence used to make an arrest.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of New York it is important that you consult with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney right away to evaluate your case and get started on your defense. Contact the Law Offices of Adam Thompson today by calling (212)267-2424 to schedule your appointment.