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Is field sobriety testing often biased?

Police use field sobriety tests to check for DUI during a stop or at checkpoints.

The problem with these tests is they are inherently subjective, and officers use little more than their own discretion to draw conclusions.

What are the types of field sobriety tests?

There are three field sobriety tests used in most states. The horizontal gaze nystagmus is an eye test. The officer will ask you to stand in place while they hold an object, usually their finger or a pen, and ask you to follow it with your eyes only. Moving anything else constitutes failure.

Another test requires you to walk in a straight line, counting your steps, until the officer tells you to turn back. You cannot use your arms to balance or look up from your feet.

The last test is the one-leg stand. The office will ask you to stand on one leg and lift the other six inches off the ground. They expect you to hold it for approximately 30 seconds.

Can you refuse?

You can politely decline to participate in field sobriety tests, and the officers cannot arrest you on that basis alone. However, they will likely then ask you to submit to a chemical test. Chemical tests use your urine, breath or blood to determine blood alcohol level. They typically ask you to breathe into a device, but these commonly produce false positives. You can decline a chemical test at the scene, but the officer will likely place you under arrest.

An arrest is not a conviction. You still have the chance to argue your case in court.