Are you required to perform Field Sobriety Tests?

Many DWIs are won or lost long before they reach a Raleigh DWI lawyer. That’s because, too often, drivers feel as though they have no option but to answer questions, provide a breath sample on a portable breath test (PBT), or perform various silly tests such as walking a line, standing on one leg, and the eye test.

It’s important to note that there are no scientifically valid peer-reviewed articles that substantiate the validity of the SFSTs that were created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1980s and 1990s. Nonetheless, your performance on these tests will be used to show that either you were impaired at the time you were driving, or that there is probable cause on behalf of the officer to believe that you were impaired, and to demand you take a breathalyzer exam.

What can you do? Well, you can politely refuse not to perform any field sobriety tests. Simply tell the officer that you don’t wish to perform these silly tests. And you can refuse to blow into the Portable Breath Test provided on the side of the road. The officer can certainly testify at trial that you refused to walk a line, but no negative inference can necessarily be drawn from your refusal to perform.

You also have the right to refuse the Intox EC/IR II machine, although you should be aware that your refusal may result in a one-year suspension of your license and the officer’s request to a magistrate for a search warrant to draw your blood.

The best advice: politely decline the field sobriety tests, and don’t answer questions.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.