mrgaduiRule 2 is: DON’T SUBMIT TO ANY ROADSIDE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

Once the officer has asked you to step out of your car, he is going to then ask if you would mind doing some “field sobriety tests.” Sometimes the officer will phrase it this way: “Do you mind taking some roadside evaluations to make sure you are ok to drive?”

My experience is that MOST people agree to take the roadside evaluations because they believe that by complying with the officer, they will be able to convince the officer not to arrest them for DUI. In fact, taking the roadside field tests is the absolutely worst thing you can do!

There are three standard field tests: the horizontal gaze test, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. This standardization came about in the 1980s. The thought at the time was that police officers could make a better decision on whether to arrest someone for DUI if they all did the same field tests the same way. There were several controlled trials where people were brought in and dosed with a known quantity of alcohol. Police officers would then administer the tests and try to guess whether some one’s blood alcohol level was above a .10 (the legal limit at the time). The problem was that the officers were correct no more than 70% of the time on any one of the three evaluations.

There are many reasons why you should never do the roadside field tests. First, they are voluntary, but the officer doesn’t have to tell you they are voluntary. Second, while the officer may show you how to do the evaluations, they never tell you exactly how they are “scoring,” so you don’t know whether you are doing the evaluations correctly or not; third, if there is no video, the cop can basically say anything in his report about how you performed on the evaluation. Finally the scoring of the evaluations are still so subjective that even most DUI Task Force officers admit that they would not take the field sobriety tests if asked.

Other than the three standard field tests, the police officers may also ask you to say the alphabet or take a portable breath test at the scene. Again, these tests are used as evidence against you by the officer to persuade a judge or jury of your guilt, so you should never agree to do these tests either.

Of my four rules, three involve a DUI stop. Of those three rules, this rule is the only one without any exceptions: NEVER DO ANY OF THE ROADSIDE EVALUATIONS.