Driving under the influence is a common mistake to make, especially during events like the Sun Bowl where it is easy to consume one too many alcoholic beverages in the excitement. It is tempting to just drive home, especially if you live close.
However, doing so may result in a police officer pulling you over. There are facts you need to know if you ever find yourself in this situation and facing a field sobriety test.
What is it?
A field sobriety test is different from a breath, blood or urine test. Instead of chemical means, it uses physical criteria, such as your ability to balance or walk straight, to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What does it involve?
The standard field sobriety test consists of three activities, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg test and the walk-and-turn test. These test your ability to follow an object with your eyes, stand on one leg while counting out loud and walk in a straight line, all without displaying certain signs, respectively. Police officers may choose to only use one of these tests or some combination of them.
What does it mean for you?
Field sobriety tests are not completely accurate (you may fail due to other factors, such as exhaustion). The interpretation is also solely up to the officer, making them very subjective and easy to misinterpret. You may fail one even if you do not have any alcohol or controlled substances in your system. You do have the right to refuse to do one.
A field sobriety test may work against you. Exercising your right not to do one eliminates the possibility of submitting the test as evidence in court if you find yourself facing charges of driving while intoxicated.