If You Are Pulled Over for a DUI, Are You Required to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests?

DUI-300x200Being pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful and confusing situation for most motorists. This is especially true If you have consumed alcohol earlier in the day. When the officer approaches your car and starts asking you where you are coming from, and where you are going, and if you have been drinking. Now your mind starts racing and your heart starts beating. Am I getting arrested for a DUI? The officer takes your license and walks back to his vehicle to run your license. The officer returns to your car and asks you to get out of your vehicle and perform some tests to see if you are okay to drive. Let’s talk about what Field Sobriety Tests are and whether you are required to perform them.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

The Field Sobriety Tests are the tests administered by a trained officer to asses whether a driver is impaired. If the tests are properly administered by a properly trained officer, they have been scientifically proven to be 90% accurate. The results of a Field Sobriety Test are legally admissible in Court and are usually an important part of the state’s prosecution of a DUI case. There are three (3) basic tests that are designed to asses your balance, coordination, and your ability to divide your attention to more than one task at a time. The 3 Field Sobriety Tests are as follows:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This test involves the officer holding a moving object, usually a pen with a light. When you move your eyeball at high peripheral angles your eyeball will jerk in an involuntary way. When you are intoxicated, this involuntary jerking will occur at lower levels and will be more exaggerated. The officer will move the object around from side to side. The officer is trained to notice deviations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These deviations are called clues. If the officer notes 4 or more clues between both eyes, this means that your blood alcohol content (BAC) is likely to be at least .10. A BAC of .08 is considered to be legally intoxicated in Illinois. According to the NHTSA, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test has a 77% accuracy rate.

Walk-and-Turn Test: For this test you will be asked to take 9 heel-to-toe steps along a straight line and then turn and take 9 heel-to-toe steps back. The officer will be looking to see if you follow the instructions and perform the test properly. If the officer notes 2 or more deviations, according to the NHTSA there is a 68% chance that your BAC is at least .10. The results of these tests are admissible in Court.

One-Leg Stand Test: The officer will ask you to stand one leg while holding the other leg about 6 inches off the ground until the officer tells you to stop. The officer will ask you to count and observe whether you do it properly. If the officer observes 2 or more deviations, according to the NHTSA there is a 65% chance that you BAC will be .10 or above.

Can I Get Arrested for Refusing to Perform Field Sobriety Tests?

It is not against the law to refuse to perform Field Sobriety Tests. There is no law that requires that you perform these tests and the Secretary of state cannot revoke or suspend your license if you refuse to perform the tests. You will not be arrested for refusing to perform the tests and you will not receive a ticket for refusing to perform the tests. Just like when the state can use the results of a Field Sobriety Test to prove that you are guilty of a DUI, they can use your refusal to perform the tests to argue that your refusal is proof of “consciousness of guilt.” However, if you believe that your BAC is over the legal limit, refusing to perform the Field Sobriety Tests may be a wise strategy to avoid a DUI conviction.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, DUI lawyer, with over 30-years of experience handling DUI cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021” by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney”, a “Best DUI Lawyer in Schaumburg”, and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois”. James Dimeas is rated ‘Superb’ by AVVO, 10 out of 10, the highest rating possible for any DUI lawyer in the United States. The American Society of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a ’10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.”

If you are facing DUI charges, You can contact award-winning DUI Lawyer, James Dimeas, for a free and confidential consultation. You can speak to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Blogs:

What Happens in a Typical DUI Arrest, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2021.

How Should I Answer Police Questions When I am Pulled Over for a DUI, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, February 13, 2018.