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What to Know about Field Sobriety Tests in California

 Posted on June 08, 2023 in DUI

Napa, CA DUI AttorneyBeing pulled over for a suspected DUI in California can be a nerve-wracking experience. One of the first things many law enforcement officers do is ask suspects to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). While these tests may seem simple enough, they can have profound implications. A DUI conviction can dramatically change a person’s life, not for the better. It is essential that drivers understand their rights and what to expect during FSTs.

If you are ever arrested for DUI after failing an FST, contact an attorney immediately to understand the next steps in your case, which will likely include building a defense against the assertions of the police and prosecution. 

What Are Field Sobriety Tests? 

Field sobriety tests are standardized assessments law enforcement officers use to evaluate a driver’s level of impairment from drugs or alcohol. There are three types of FSTs commonly used in California, including:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test – This tests for involuntary jerking movements of the eyeballs. Failing this test usually signals impairment due to alcohol consumption. 

  • The Walk and Turn Test – This tests balance, coordination, and the ability to follow instructions. A person is asked to take nine steps forward, then turn on one foot and take nine steps back.

  • The One-Leg Stand Test – This also tests balance and coordination. A person is asked to stand on one leg and count aloud for a certain length of time.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Mandatory in California? 

No, field sobriety tests are not mandatory in California. Drivers have the right to refuse these tests, although doing so could result in an arrest for suspicion of DUI. It is important to note that FSTs are a subjective test that can be affected by a number of non-alcohol and drug-related factors like advanced age, physical limitations, and any illnesses that may make performance a challenge. 

Should You Refuse FSTs in California?

This is a tricky question, as refusing the test may seem like an admission of guilt to the officer, which will likely result in your arrest. On the other hand, if the officer knows you have been drinking, you may be arrested whether you submit to an FST or not. In addition, refusing to submit an FST will result in less evidence for prosecutors to use against you in court. Therefore, in California, it is recommended that you refuse an FST if you are asked to submit one.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Attorney

Hire the experienced Napa DUI lawyer with Burglin Law Offices, P.C. to fight DUI charges. Call 415-729-7300 for a free consultation. 



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