Consenting to Field Sobriety Tests

Interviewer: My last question here is, do people know that it’s optional most of the time, and if so, why do they take it anyway as far as field sobriety tests goes?

Court Koehler: Like I said a little bit earlier, almost everyone takes the field sobriety tests. It’s rare for somebody to refuse them. And why do they take them? Well, when I say, as I do to almost everybody, you don’t have to take the field sobriety tests, obviously that doesn’t help you at the point that we’re sitting in my office, because you’ve already been arrested. But at least for future reference, you do not have to take the field sobriety tests. They look at me just astonished. “You mean I didn’t have to do that?” Yeah, you don’t have to take those tests.

The officers are really good at making it seem like you do or like it’s an inconsequential thing, like with the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, when they say, “Take a look at this penlight. We’re buds; have you been drinking? No? Okay, hey, just look right here for a second.” And all of a sudden you’re taking a field sobriety test and you don’t even know it. They do this for a living, obviously, and they do it time and time again and they know how to get you in a spot where they can make it uncomfortable for you to refuse and that’s exactly what they do. They want you to take the field sobriety tests because that’s how they gather their evidence.

I would say 90% of the people don’t know that they don’t have to take the field sobriety tests. Then of the other people that take it, even though they did know they didn’t have to take it, usually the reason they take it is because they think, “Well, if I do really well, then I’m not going to get arrested. If I can pass this test, then I can get off the hook and I can get out of this mess.” So they’re sitting there, they’ve been arrested for DUI, and they’re thinking, “On my gosh, how am I going to get out of this? I’m totally fine to drive and I’m going to pass these field sobriety tests.”

The problem is that you’re not going to pass the field sobriety tests. I don’t care how sober you are or not; you’re just not going to pass the tests. If you’re out of your car, and you’re taking field sobriety tests, you’re going to end up with a DUI every time, because they’re impossible to pass. The officer is just gathering evidence to use against you at court at that point.

By Court Koehler

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