What Are Field Sobriety Tests and Do I Have to Submit to Them?

Posted on : August 31, 2018
DUI Attorney Richard Brueckner

Field sobriety tests are commonly used by police officers to determine if a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol. When asked by an officer to get out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests, most people oblige. But are you legally required to in Maryland? Here’s what you should know about field sobriety testing and if you have the option to decline even if you are asked to submit to testing by a law enforcement officer.

1. The Walk and Turn Test

During the walk and turn test, the officer will ask you to walk several steps in a straight line, heel to toe. You’ll be asked to turn on your heel and walk back the same number of steps, again in a straight line and heel to toe. The officer will be looking for you to lose your balance or lose track of how many steps you have taken.

2. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

When a person is under the influence of alcohol, a condition called nystagmus can occur. This is where the eyes involuntarily jerk when tracking an object. To test for this condition, a police officer will ask you to follow an object like his or her finger or a flashlight with your eyes only, without moving your head. The officer will be looking for you to have difficulty keeping your gaze on the object.

3. The One Leg Stand Test

During the one leg stand test, a police officer will ask you to stand on one foot with your other leg bent at a 90-degree angle for at least 10 seconds. The officer will be watching for you to lose your balance or lose track of how long you have been standing.

Can You Decline Field Sobriety Testing in Maryland?

Field sobriety tests aren’t as accurate as law enforcement officers would like you to believe. They’re largely subjective, meaning that interpreting whether you are intoxicated or not is up to the discretion of the officer. They’re also not legally required for you to do. If an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle and submit to field sobriety testing, you do have the legal right to politely decline. It is usually in your best interest to do so because even sober people can easily fail the tests.

If you’ve been arrested for a DWI in Maryland, don’t hesitate to obtain legal representation. Contact Richard J. Brueckner by calling (410) 430-1464.

Posted by: Richard Brueckner

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