Maybe you had a few beers with the after-work crowd at your favorite watering hole. You’re trying to drive home as inconspicuously as possible when all of a sudden, you see those blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror.
Your day is about to get substantially worse. The police officer approaches and after asking for your license and registration, suspects that you’ve been drinking. Should you attempt to perform the field sobriety tests that they ask you to do?
Don’t hand them evidence against you
You have the constitutional right not to self-incriminate. In these situations, it is highly recommended that you avail yourself of it and refuse these tests regardless of whether or not you have been drinking.
The police and courts have many tools at their disposal to assemble a criminal case against you. Why work with them to convict yourself when you have a legal right to refuse?
Tests are subjective and can be skewed
Field sobriety tests (FSTs) consist mainly of three types:
- Walk-and-turn (WAT)
- One-leg stand (OLS)
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN)
Even on their best day when they haven’t touched a drop of alcohol, many people struggle to balance on one leg or walk heel-to-toe in a perfectly straight line. Anyone who has ever had knee or foot surgery and people with vision problems can routinely fail these tests in their own doctors’ offices, let alone on the side of the road.
Often, these tests are conducted just a few inches from fast-moving traffic whizzing by on interstates or East St. Louis highways. It’s normal to flinch from close contact with traffic, but that could cause you to stumble and fail the test.
Most traffic stops are filmed
You should realize that refusing these tests will not prevent your being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). But if you intend to dispute the charges later, it is far easier for your criminal defense attorney to argue that you were not intoxicated if the prosecution doesn’t possess videotaped evidence of you wobbling and stumbling outside of your vehicle.
Ask for an attorney
Before answering any questions by police regarding where you have been and how much, if anything, that you have had to drink, ask to speak to an Illinois criminal defense attorney. This is your legal right, but you must ask. Otherwise, any admissions you make at the scene or later while in custody will certainly be used against you later in court.