It’s important that the police pull over vehicles for the safety of others. The police may have reasonable suspicion that a driver has committed, is committing or will commit a crime. A driver may draw the police’s suspicion if they show signs of inebriation, such as running red lights, stopping suddenly or swerving between lanes.
During a traffic stop, the police can evaluate a driver’s condition with a field sobriety test. A standardized field sobriety test is a physical examination that can help police determine a driver’s inebriation levels. Here’s what you should know:
There are several types of standardized field sobriety tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for sanctioning standardized field sobriety tests. There are three kinds of standardized field sobriety tests:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- Walk-and-turn test
- One-legged stand test
The police can conduct other kinds of tests that are considered non-standardized. For example, a driver may be asked to spell the alphabet backward while touching their toes.
The accuracy of field sobriety tests is questionable, at best
Standardized field sobriety tests don’t have any scientific accuracy. These tests are conducted and judged with an officer’s best judgment. In other words, an officer can accurately judge a driver’s condition. Such factors that can create anomalies during these tests can include disabilities, drowsiness, prescription medication, age or caffeine.
Because they are unscientific, motorists aren’t legally obligated to submit to these tests. You can (and probably should) decline to participate.
Your rights during a traffic stop
Just as the police have the right to pull over vehicles, drivers have rights during traffic stops. If you believe your rights were violated during a traffic stop and you’re now facing a drunk driving charge, you may need to learn your options for a legal defense.