Fisher Law Office

Are Drivers Required to Perform Field Sobriety Tests?

Virtually every driver who has been stopped by law enforcement and investigated for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) has been instructed by law enforcement to perform several Field Sobriety Tests (FST's).  These tests commonly include standing on one leg (One-Leg Stand), walking in a straight line (Walk-and-Turn) and following a moving object with one's eyes (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus).  Each of these tests is flawed in detecting the influence of alcohol and other drugs.  What's more, the manner in which the tests are explained to drivers and the way in which law enforcement judge the performance of drivers makes it extremely difficult for any driver, sober or otherwise, to perform the FST's to an officer's satisfaction.  Fortunately, drivers are not legally required to participate in the FST's. Unfortunately, few drivers know that.


In my experience, by the time a law enforcement officer has asked a driver to step out of the car and perform some FST's, the law enforcement has already formed an opinion as to whether or not the driver is under the influence.  Usually, the law enforcement officer is just trying to use the FST's to strengthen their arrest and to strengthen the District Attorney's future prosecution.  I have reviewed many law enforcement videos of drivers performing the FST's perfectly only to be arrested for DUI minutes later.  Of course, the police reports I've read rarely indicate that the driver performed the FST's well.  

Given the above, it might come as no surprise that I advise my clients to politely decline to participate in any FST's in the future.

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Fisher Law Office

1322 Morro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-4028

Phone: 805-706-0205
Fax: 805-542-0464
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