If I Passed Field Sobriety Tests, Why Was I Still Arrested?
Posted By Salvador Phillips, PLLC || Feb 2, 2017
At Salvador Law Group, our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys have represented many clients who were charged with driving under the influence. While all cases are unique and concern their own set of facts and circumstances, we hear recurring concerns from clients that they passed field sobriety tests, but were still arrested. Often, they ask us if that means they have a valid defense against the charges they face.
The reality, in most cases, is that field sobriety tests carry a miniscule amount of weight or leverage in DUI cases. This is because Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, as well as a few other non-standardized sobriety tests, are generally considered unreliable sources of evidence. In fact, they are more likely to be used as tactics for police officers to gain extra time to determine if a driver may be under the influence and provide themselves with insurance that they can test and arrest drivers without violating their constitutional rights. As opposed to what officers want you to believe, they are also not mandatory. You have the right to politely decline field sobriety tests.
According to many legal experts, field sobriety tests are designed to make you fail. They are also susceptible to false interpretations when environmental factors are involved, or when you have a condition that prevents you from performing well on the tests, even if you are sober and not under the influence at all.
Our legal team generally advises clients to refuse field sobriety tests – which include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (where the officer has you follow an object with your eyes), the walk and turn test (where you may also be asked to count off your steps), and the one leg stand (where you may also be asked to count as you balance on one leg).
These tests won’t help your case, even if you “pass.” If an arresting officer has sufficient probable cause to believe you are under the influence, they will ask you to take a field breath test, or transport you to the police station or local jail to have a chemical test performed. While you can refuse a roadside test without repercussions, you cannot refuse the secondary chemical test without an automatic suspension of your license, so it is generally recommended that you take this test.
Regardless of what transpired during your stop and arrest, you should remember that you have the legal right to challenge the facts prosecutors present against you during your case. By working with experienced attorneys, you also have the opportunity to investigate the actions of law enforcement when they chose to stop and investigate you to ensure they did so lawfully and that they did not infringe upon your right constitutional rights. If they did, it provides an excellent opportunity to have evidence against you dismissed, and it will make it exceedingly difficult for a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence.
Whether you passed, failed, or refused a field sobriety test, you can still be arrested for DUI and will have to defend yourself in court. Our legal team is prepared to do so on your behalf, and to represent you in administrative proceedings pertaining to your driving privileges. However, it is strongly advised that you reach out to our team as soon so possible after an arrest in order to meet deadlines for challenging license suspensions and maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
Salvador Law Group is a proven Phoenix DUI defense firm that put clients first. Choosing to work with our team means choosing to work with seasoned criminal defense lawyers who understand the protocol required in stopping, arresting, and prosecuting individuals accused of DUI. We use this insight for the benefit of our clients when we fight for the best possible outcome.
Contact Salvador Law Group today for a free and confidential assessment of your case.