As you drive home, you suddenly see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. At first, you aren't sure whether they are for you since you can't think of anything you did to draw the attention of a police officer. You pull over and wait for the officer to approach.
When you begin speaking with the officer, it becomes clear that whatever you did made the officer suspect that you might be driving under the influence. The officer will probably ask you to participate in field sobriety tests and take a roadside breath test. Should you do it?
You may not want to participate
A lot of confusion exists regarding what the law says about taking these tests. Police officers will attempt to make you believe that the law requires you to take these tests. This is because they are designed to help provide probable cause for a DUI arrest. You should know that you do not have to participate in field sobriety tests or a roadside breath test. If you decide not to participate, the following tips may help you get through the traffic stop:
- Remain calm and be polite
- Comply with orders to exit the vehicle
- Comply with requests to see your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance
- Refrain from making any sudden movements
- Do not let officers threaten or guilt you into taking any roadside tests
You may end up under arrest regardless of whether you participate in the roadside tests, but at least you do not give the officer more ammunition to prove that probable cause exists for your arrest. You will be required to participate in a blood alcohol concentration test after an officer obtains a warrant. In addition, you must participate in the evidentiary breath test at the station or jail. This fulfills the "implied consent" requirement you agreed to when you obtained your driver's license.
If you end up participating in roadside sobriety tests
If you do participate in field sobriety tests, it does not necessarily mean that the results may be used against you in court. These tests are highly subjective, which means that if the officer administering the tests already suspects you of drunk driving, he or she will more than likely say you failed the tests.
An interesting fact about field sobriety tests that everyone should know is that a substantial number of sober people fail these tests as well. Physical conditions can affect your ability to perform the tests. This is yet another reason not to participate in them.