Field Sobriety Tests: What You Need to Know

In California, over 900 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities occurred in 2019. With many accidents attributed to drunk driving every year, law enforcement is taking action against impaired driving by taking measures to enforce the penalties on violators. Field sobriety tests are standardized resources police officers may use to evaluate their suspicions of a driver’s sobriety. In any case, not complying with a breathalyzer test or refusing a breath test after an arrest in California may lead to penalties.

However, understanding your rights and how a lawyer may help you in the case of a failed breath test or the days following a DUI arrest may help you avoid the full extent of penalties and achieve a better outcome for your future. Our client-centered approach at Aron Law Firm aids in the successful outcomes of our cases. An eager California DUI attorney in Santa Barbara, CA may evaluate your case and help protect your rights with a strong defense.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are tools police officers use during a traffic stop to test the sobriety of a driver suspected of driving under the influence. In a DUI case, a police officer’s notes on their subjective analysis of a driver’s coordination, cognition, and general ability of sobriety tests may be admissible as evidence in a courtroom. Although, these tests do not produce numerical data and are not definitive in a DUI case.

Types of field sobriety tests include:

  • Walk and Turn Test
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
  • One Leg Stand

In addition to standard testing, a breathalyzer is also used to measure a driver’s blood alcohol level (BAC) at the time. Any BAC level above the legal limit of 0.08% for of-age drinkers and over 0.01% for drivers not of age may warrant a legal arrest. However, it is not illegal to refuse preliminary testing. Understanding your rights and how these tests affect you during a DUI case may help you feel more at ease throughout the legal process.

Everything You Need to Know About Field Sobriety Tests in California

If you were pulled over for drunk driving and arrested for failing field sobriety tests, you might have questions and concerns about what follows. Here are some important questions and facts to note about field sobriety testing in California DUI cases.

What Are My Rights During a DUI Traffic Stop?

Anytime you are pulled over by a police officer, it is important to remember your rights. Generally, giving your name, identifying information, and remaining calm during a traffic stop may benefit you. You have the right to remain silent and refrain from answering questions that may incriminate you and result in an unnecessary arrest. Requesting to speak with your attorney and seeking legal advice may help avoid mistakes after an arrest.

Is It Illegal to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in California?

In California, there are no laws against refusing field sobriety testing. Additionally, refusing a preliminary alcohol screening is not illegal either. However, after an arrest, you are legally subject to sobriety testing with a breath test under the implied consent law:

“A person who drives a motor vehicle is deemed to have given his or her consent to chemical testing of his or her blood or breath for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of his or her blood, if lawfully arrested for an offense allegedly committed in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153…”

In some cases, refusing sobriety testing or a breathalyzer is against the law. This exception only applies to drivers under 21 or already on probation. Any other drivers have the right to refuse initial testing but must comply if they are arrested and taken to a station.

How Do Field Sobriety Tests and Breathalyzer Results Affect a DUI Case?

When a police officer’s notes and breathalyzer results are available, the prosecution will hone in on admissible evidence. However, a dedicated Santa Barbara criminal attorney at our firm has the knowledge and experience to refute the evidence and challenge the efficacy of these tests. Many times, sobriety tests are important indicators for the prosecution when a driver fails the tests, but not if it does not benefit a guilty verdict.

Can I Challenge Field Sobriety Tests in a California Courtroom?

In California, you may challenge field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer or blood test with an attorney on your case. If you unknowingly agreed to field sobriety tests or an officer misguided you into completing the tests, your attorney can represent you and defend you in a courtroom.

A Knowledgeable Attorney at Aron Law Firm May Challenge Field Sobriety Tests in a DUI Case

Although field sobriety testing and breathalyzer may be intimidating when the prosecution presents evidence, you are not alone in your defense. Entrusting our knowledgeable attorney at Aron Law Firm, regardless of the number of offenses you are up against, may help you achieve a better outcome that positively impacts your future.

With your personal and professional life in mind, our skilled attorney works to develop an irrefutable defense against the prosecution’s case against you. Do not try to navigate a DUI case or challenge a breathalyzer result on your own during your court case. Our reputable legal team is available to evaluate your case and steer you in an honest direction. To start protecting your rights and putting your best foot forward, complete a contact form or call us at (805) 618-1768 to schedule a consultation.