ProtectingYour Rights

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

If you get pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving (or the officer suspects intoxication after pulling you over), you may be asked to participate in field sobriety tests. These are essentially tests of physical coordination and biological response. In Indiana, police primarily use three field sobriety tests:

  • The walk and turn test (walking heel to toe, then turning around)
  • The one-leg stand
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (following a moving object with your eyes)

All of these tests are performed for one reason: to give the officer more probable cause or evidence to make an arrest. They are usually a precursor to a portable breath test, which is also considered a field sobriety test.

Can I Say No To These Tests? Should I Cooperate?

You can refuse to take any of the tests mentioned above (including the portable breath test) without being penalized for your refusal.

Law enforcement officers sometimes say, “Just take these tests, and if you pass, I can send you on your way.” No matter what an officer tells you, it is usually in your best interests to refuse the tests. In fact, most lawyers would tell you that taking the test can and probably will work against you.

What Happens Next? Can I Still Be Arrested?

If you decline to participate in field sobriety tests, the officer still may be able to arrest you based on observed evidence such as slurred speech, erratic driving or the smell of an alcoholic beverage on your breath or clothes. After being arrested or taken into custody, you may not refuse the certified alcohol test (breath or blood) without potentially receiving a license suspension penalty.

If you do get arrested and charges are later filed, there will at least be no field test results available to use against you in court.

Learn More About Field Sobriety Tests And Your Rights. Call Us Today.

In matters involving intoxicated driving, we offer free initial consultations to potential clients in Indianapolis and the surrounding regions. To speak with an experienced attorney, call us at 317-972-9799. You can also request an appointment by filling out our online contact form.