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Do You Really Have to Perform Roadside Sobriety Tests?

Posted on : March 8, 2020, By:  Donald J Matson
California Roadside Sobriety Test Attorney

Participating In A Field Sobriety Test

If a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you have been drinking and driving, he will likely request that you perform a variety of roadside sobriety tests. These tests are commonly used in California to help an officer determine if a person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, these tests are highly inaccurate and may work against you, even if you were driving sober. Do you have the right to decline them?

What Are Roadside Sobriety Tests?

A roadside sobriety test, also called a field sobriety test, is a simple test that can help identify individuals who have been drinking. There are three types of roadside sobriety tests commonly used in California, including:

The Walk & Turn 

The driver is asked to walk several steps on a straight line, turn on the heel, and walk back the same amount of steps on the same line. The officer will watch to determine if the driver misses steps, does not stay on the line, or shows signs of imbalance.

The Nystagmus Test 

The officer will shine a light into the driver’s eyes and ask him to follow it as the light is moved horizontally. The officer will watch to determine if the driver’s eyes “shake,” a condition called nystagmus, which can be caused by alcohol intoxication.

The One Leg Stand Test 

The driver is asked to stand on one leg with the other foot held out in front of her, just a few feet off the ground. The officer will watch to determine if the driver cannot hold her balance or stumbles.

What Can Affect the Accuracy of Roadside Sobriety Tests?

There are numerous things that can cause a person to fail a roadside sobriety test, including but not limited to:

  • Poor balance
  • Prescribed medications
  • Fatigue
  • Unclear instructions
  • Certain medical conditions, including nystagmus

Can You Decline Roadside Sobriety Tests?

Under California law, you have the right to say no to roadside sobriety tests without penalty. You will likely still be asked to complete a chemical test, which you also have the right to decline. However, declining these tests will result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Politely inform the officer who stopped you that you are exercising your right to decline field sobriety testing.

Any time you are arrested for a DUI charge, it is important to protect your rights with the help of an experienced attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Donald J. Matson for a consultation today by calling (626) 792-1900.