Should You Practice for your Field Sobriety Tests?

Spokane DUI FSTs

Those flashing lights behind you on the freeway always make your heart pound. You were only going about five miles per hour over the speed limit and you are completely sober, so you know you have nothing to worry about, but somehow it still makes you nervous. But then the police officer asks you to step out of the car for some field sobriety tests. Did you do something that might have made it look like you were intoxicated?

Legal gymnastics

You know you haven’t had anything to drink, and those tests look so easy on those cop shows, so you say yes and get out of the car. As you begin walking in a line, touching your heel to your toe, you realize something. Your nerves are on full blast, there are rocks and gravel under your feet, and that semi truck blasting by feels like it is going to blow you right over. This is a lot harder than it looks, and you find yourself stumbling. (Maybe you should spit out your gum.)

Depending on your coordination levels, failing a field sobriety test when sober is possible. There are a lot of factors that come in to play that can cause you to fail these tests, like medical conditions, medications, nervousness, or just plain lack of coordination. If you make a misstep, even while sober, you may find yourself in need of a Spokane DUI Defense Attorney.

Three “approved” tests

There are three main tests that have been approved by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help police officers try to determine if someone is intoxicated:

One-leg stand: You are asked to stand on one leg for about 30 seconds, during which time the officer may try to distract you by asking you questions or giving instructions. He is watching for you to lose balance, sway, put your foot down, or hop. Unless you are in elementary school, you probably haven’t practiced standing on one leg recently.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus: The officer will ask you to follow an object with your eyes. They are watching for your eye to jerk in various positions. The problem is that many things can cause your eye to jerk, such as a previous head injury, tired eyes, or traffic driving by.
Walk and turn: Imagine a straight line in front of you, walk on it heel to toe with your arms out to your sides, count out loud while taking nine steps, then turn and take nine steps back. I don’t know about you, but that is a lot of instructions to remember when you are already very nervous, and a single mistake in any of these areas will result in failing the test.

While the officer may ask you to perform a few other acts (reciting part of the alphabet, asking you trick questions, or having you recite tongue twisters, for example), they are not admissible in court since the above tests are the only ones approved by the NHTSA.

What you should really do

Knowing that you can easily balance on one foot or walk a perfectly straight line without faltering before you are asked to do if for a sobriety test could affect your response to an officer requesting these tests from you. Should you practice? Only if you have nothing else to do.

An even better idea would be to make note of the fact that you can decline field sobriety testing without any serious consequences. If the officer continues to push the issue, especially when you believe there was no probable cause to suspect DUI, you know it’s time to contact an attorney. Take a moment right now and program the number for Action Legal Group into your phone, you never know when you will need an experienced DUI Defense Attorney on your side

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