If you haven’t been subjected to such an inspection, you may wonder whether a refusal of a field sobriety test is possible. You might also be curious if declining could put you in conflict with the law. Before answering those questions, let us first break down everything you need to know about field sobriety tests.
Formally known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), it is composed of three assessments standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These tests guide officers in determining if they should arrest someone for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
During this test, the driver is asked to stand straight with their feet together, hands to their side, and keep their head still. Then, a law enforcement officer will make them follow a stimulus (commonly a pen or penlight) with their eyes as the stimulus moves from left to right.
HGN is an involuntary jerking of the eyes that can be caused by drug or alcohol intake. However, it can also be a result of a medical condition or a sudden change of temperature.
Walk and Turn (WAT)
This assessment aims to test the driver’s body and mind coordination. During the WAT test, the officer will instruct the driver to take nine steps forward—while counting each step out loud—heel touching the toe, following a straight line. Then, they will be asked to turn in the opposite direction and do the same thing.
Since alcohol slows down one’s reflexes and alters visual perception, intoxicated drivers will likely have difficulty maintaining their balance, walking in a straight line, and counting out loud all at the same time. The same goes for people under the influence of drugs since they can impair cognitive functioning.
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
Similar to WAT, OLS also aims to see how well the driver’s body and mind coordination is. The officer will ask them to stand with their feet together and their arms resting at their sides. Then, the driver will be instructed to raise one of their feet about six inches above the ground. They have to look at their elevated foot while counting loudly, starting from one thousand and so on, until told to stop.
The test goes for 30 seconds, and during that time frame, the officer will check if the driver is swaying, hopping, or using their arms to regain balance. If the driver puts their foot down in less than 30 seconds, it could be enough reason for the officer to rule them out as a drunk or impaired driver.
Refusal of a Field Sobriety Test in Colorado
Even the slightest error on your SFSTs can be enough evidence for you to face DUI charges. But, all field sobriety tests in Colorado are voluntary, and you have the right to decline.
Just remember to stay calm and tell the officer that you prefer not to take an FST in a courteous and polite manner. However, you have to clearly state that you are only turning down the FST since declining chemical testing (breath, blood, and urine) goes against Colorado’s express consent law.
Turn to Maher & Maher Law, PC
If you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer and arrested for DUI, DUI per se, DWAI, or UDD, get in touch with Maher & Maher Law, PC right away. We have experienced DUI lawyers that can handle your case. Call us at (719) 301-7500 for a free consultation.