Field Sobriety Tests - Pittsburgh DUI Attorney

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Field Sobriety Tests

Few things are more dangerous than drinking and driving. Drunk drivers are seven times more likely to get into an accident with a fatality and over 10 times more likely to crash in general. While this is a good reason for police officers to always be on the lookout for drunk drivers, there is no reason to let innocent people get in trouble for drinking and driving. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference when using field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests are tests that officers give suspects to see if they may be under the influence based on the way you act, walk, or react to stimuli. The most common ones include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: The officer shines a light back and forth and watches your eyes to see if you can follow the penlight normally.
  • Walk and Turn Test: The officer has you walk back and forth on a line while watching if you stumble or experience difficulty following directions.
  • One Leg Stand Test: The officer watches for you to sway or lose balance as you stand with one foot about six inches off the ground and count the seconds out loud.

These physical tests are supposed to show an officer if you are intoxicated or not. Unfortunately, they are not always accurate. Although a drunk driver is unlikely to pass these tests, many people with a legal BAC may fail as well. In fact, fatigue, medical conditions and even simple nervousness are all common reasons people fail field sobriety tests.

Do I Have to Take Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania?

Because of these inconsistencies in field sobriety test results, the law does not require you to consent to them if you are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI. In fact, it is often in your best interest to refuse, as an officer who believes you to be intoxicated is likely to see what he expects in the results. Even when the test is conducted objectively, your nerves could cause a false positive for intoxication. While Pennsylvania law requires you to submit to chemical tests or risk losing your license, field sobriety tests are optional, so you should not feel pressured to consent.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, it is important to take the charges seriously. Whether you failed a field sobriety test or not, the prosecution is likely to build a strong case against you. A strong defense aided by an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer is the best way to fight these charges. After a DUI arrest, trust our DUI lawyers to fight for your rights. Call us today at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation on your case.