During a DUI / OWI investigation, a police officer will frequently ask a suspect to engage in tasks that are commonly called “Field Sobriety Tests”. Some officers will even tell you that these tests are to ensure that you’re safe to drive. In reality, these tests are being used to gather evidence that will be used against you later.
There are three standardized field sobriety tests that were developed by the National Highway Safety Administration. Attorney Josh Blanchard is certified to administer these tests and has frequently found that the officers who administer the tests do so incorrectly.
Walk and Turn
This is a test where the officer will ask you to walk on a real or imaginary line. He will ask you to take 9 steps down and 9 steps back. You will be instructed to make the turn in a particular manner. If you step off the line, use your arms for balance, don’t touch heel to toe, turn incorrectly, take the wrong number of steps, or start before the officer tells you to, you’ll find that the officer will later claim that this is a sign of your intoxication.
One Leg Stand
Another test that the officer will ask you to take is called the One Leg Stand. As the name suggests, the officer will ask you to stand on one leg, with the other extended in front of you. He will ask you to count out loud. If you sway, use your arms for balance, put your foot down, fail to count out loud, or fail in another way, you’ll hear about this from the officer at trial.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
This is the “eye test” where the officer will ask you to follow his pen or finger with your eyes. The officer is looking for an involuntary jerking motion that your eyes may make if you have consumed alcohol. Many other things can cause this jerking motion, including the flashing lights on the officer’s car.
Should you take the test?
It is our advice that you should politely decline to engage in the officer’s field sobriety testing. The officer is using these tests to gather evidence against you. He isn’t looking for a reason to let you go home. If you refuse to take the tests, you won’t be giving the police an opportunity use a misstep against you.
If you have already taken the field sobriety tests and are facing a Drunk Driving charge in Michigan, let us talk to you about whether the officer performed the tests correctly and how we might be able to help you. You can reach us at 616-773-2945.