Featured News 2018 Are you a Sobriety Test Exception?

Are You a Sobriety Test Exception?

If you are pulled over for driving under the influence, chances are that the police will require you to complete a series of tests. If you are asked to submit to a blood or breath test, you must do so or be subject to arrest. Failure to comply with these tests can result in extended license suspension and harsher sentencing.

In addition, the officer may want to put you through a series of physical tests known as "field sobriety tests." These tests are supposed to measure a person's coordination and motor skills (which indicates if they're drunk or not). We say "supposed to" because they're actually under a great deal of scrutiny for not being accurate.

A normal test consists of simple activities such as:
  • Standing on one foot
  • Walking a straight line
  • Counting backwards from ten to one

What If You Can't Walk in a Straight Line Anyway?

These tests assume a baseline of coordination and mobility—a baseline that not everyone meets, drunk or not.

That's why, in some instances, police are not permitted to issue these tests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a list of guidelines to protect individuals from unfair scrutiny. All police officers are required to abide by these rules, or it will de-legitimize the investigation. One guideline is about weight: any person who is overweight by 50 pounds or more should not take these tests. This is due to balance issues and poor health conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans are in this category. If you fit in that percentage, and were asked to take a DUI test, then you should use that information to challenge your DUI.

Other Field Sobriety Exemptions

Also, anyone over the age of 65 is exempt from field sobriety tests. These men and women are often not physically fit to accomplish balance tests and may have difficulty walking without aid. If you are over 65 and submitted to field sobriety tests, then your police officer went against NHTSA protocol and could help delegitimize your arrest.

Men and women with balance issues, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, a physical impairment, constraining clothing, or debilitating nervousness should choose to avoid sobriety tests. A person with a physical disability is legally exempt from field sobriety tests, as well as anyone who is suffering from a leg injury. For example, drivers on crutches, in braces, or currently using a wheel chair should never be asked to complete a field test. Uneven or tilted ground can work against you when you take your examination. If you are pulled over on an incline, then police cannot ask you to complete field sobriety tests at that location.

The NHTSA also says that it is illegal for police officers to demand these exercises in a rapid or stressful fashion. If the highway patrolman who pulled you over overwhelmed you when issuing these tests, and then used your reactionary behavior to prove you guilty, you can fight this in court. It is important to remember that sobriety tests are not mandatory. In fact, the only reason to submit to these tests is if you believe that they will aid you in proving your innocence. If you are uncomfortable taking field sobriety tests, then exercise your rights and do not consent to them.

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