Police officers and state troopers utilize field sobriety tests to assess the sobriety of drivers that they suspect to be driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you fail the test, the results can be used against you in a court of law.
While you have the right to refuse a field sobriety test in the state of North Carolina, refusing a field sobriety test can lead the court to conclude that you were intoxicated. In this article, we’ll discuss field sobriety tests used in North Carolina and what you should do if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving.
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
A field sobriety test is a series of tests used to determine if an individual is driving under the influence. These tests are commonly administered during traffic stops when an officer has probable cause to believe that a driver may be inebriated. Field sobriety tests are used across North Carolina, and the results can be used as evidence in court cases. The tests involve physical and mental tasks such as reciting the alphabet, standing on one foot, following a finger with your eyes, or walking in a straight line.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, standardized field sobriety testing, also known as SFST, basic tests include the one-leg stand and the walk and turn. However, police officers with advanced training can use the finger-to-nose test, modified Romberg balance test, and a lack of convergence test.
Can the Results of Field Sobriety Tests Be Used in Court?
Test results can be used in court when determining probable cause for a DWI arrest. Field sobriety tests are often used to measure the impairment of a driver suspected of driving while under the influence. If the test results show that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit, then this provides law enforcement with probable cause to make an arrest for driving while intoxicated.
Other evidence such as eyewitness accounts, video or audio recordings, or even chemical testing can be used in court to prove that a driver was impaired and should have been arrested for DWI. However, failing a field sobriety test doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be convicted. A skilled DWI lawyer can try to get these test results dismissed.
Potential Inaccuracies of Field Sobriety Tests
Despite their widespread use, field sobriety tests may not be as accurate as originally thought. The conditions of the test can make it difficult to accurately gauge impairment levels, and the administration of the tests may be subject to interpretation and bias. As a result, there can be potential inaccuracies associated with field sobriety tests when determining whether or not someone is under the influence or impaired.
Should You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
Refusing a field sobriety test is a personal decision that should be carefully considered. Throughout North Carolina, law enforcement officers may ask you to take a field sobriety test if they suspect you of being impaired by alcohol or drugs. However, it is your right to refuse the field sobriety test, and doing so will not automatically result in a criminal conviction.
If you refuse, your license may be suspended for one year due to implied consent laws. Furthermore, if an officer has probable cause to believe that you are impaired, they can still arrest and charge you without the results of a field sobriety test. Ultimately, refusing a field sobriety test is an individual decision and should be based on your assessment of the facts and circumstances at hand.
Contact a North Carolina DWI Lawyer
In North Carolina, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law. Failing a field sobriety test can be used as evidence in court against you. If you are suspected of driving under the influence and are required to take a field sobriety test, it is important to consult with an experienced DWI defense attorney. Contact the Law Office of Dewey P. Brinkley at (919) 832-0307 or by using the online form.