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Should you ever agree to take a field sobriety test?

In a word, NO. Taking a field sobriety test is not in your best interests. Why? Because you stand a good chance of failing it, even when you have no alcohol in your system.

Besides, as Alcohol Problems and Solutions points out, these tests are strictly voluntary, regardless of what law enforcement officers may tell you.

Factors negatively impacting your performance

Numerous factors having nothing to do with alcohol consumption can cause you to perform poorly on one or more of the field sobriety components, including the following:

  • Your age
  • Your weight
  • Your ability see
  • Your ability to walk
  • Your ability to maintain your balance
  • The officer’s subjectiveness in scoring your results

Horizontal gaze nystagmus test

The first test consists of your standing still and looking straight ahead. The officer then waves a small object, such as a pen or flashlight, horizontally in front of your face. Your task is to follow the movement with your eyes only, with the officer determining if, and to what extent, your eyes jerk while doing this.

Walk and turn test

The second test consists of your having to walk forward nine steps in a straight line, turn around and walk back. The catch? You must walk heel-to-toe the entire time, with the officer determining how well you maintain your balance.

One-legged stand test

The final test consists of your having to stand for 30 seconds on one foot with the other raised off the ground. Again, the officer determines how well you maintain your balance.

As you can see, these tests are almost designed for you to fail them. Consequently, your wisest course of action is to simply decline to take them



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