Are you obligated to undergo Field Sobriety Tests if pulled over for a DUI in Edwardsville, IL?

Being pulled over by a police officer can be a stressful and confusing situation for most motorists, especially in Belleville, IL. This feeling intensifies if you have consumed alcohol earlier in the day. As the officer approaches your car and begins asking about your whereabouts and alcohol consumption, your mind starts racing and your heart starts pounding. Are you being pulled over for a DUI? The officer takes your license and heads back to their vehicle to run it through the system. Upon returning, they ask you to step out of the car and perform some tests to assess your ability to drive safely. Let’s discuss what Field Sobriety Tests entail and whether you are obligated to undergo them.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field Sobriety Tests are assessments conducted by trained officers to determine if a driver is impaired. When properly administered by a trained officer, these tests have been scientifically proven to be 90% accurate. The results of these tests are admissible in court and often play a crucial role in the prosecution of a DUI case. There are three basic tests designed to evaluate your balance, coordination, and ability to multitask:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: In this test, the officer holds a moving object, usually a pen with a light, and observes your eye movements. Intoxication can cause involuntary jerking of the eyes at lower levels, which the officer is trained to detect. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if the officer notes 4 or more clues between both eyes, it indicates a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .10, with .08 being the legal limit in Illinois. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test has a 77% accuracy rate according to the NHTSA.

Walk-and-Turn Test: During this test, you’re asked to take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer observes your compliance with instructions and the proper execution of the test. If the officer notes 2 or more deviations, according to the NHTSA, there’s a 68% chance your BAC is at least .10.

One-Leg Stand Test: In this test, you’re instructed to stand on one leg while holding the other about 6 inches off the ground until told to stop. The officer observes your ability to balance and follow instructions. If 2 or more deviations are noted, there’s a 65% chance your BAC is .10 or above.

Can I Get Arrested for Refusing to Perform Field Sobriety Tests?

It is not illegal to refuse Field Sobriety Tests. There’s no law mandating their performance, and your license cannot be revoked or suspended for refusal. You won’t be arrested or ticketed for refusal either. However, just as the state can use test results to argue DUI guilt, they can also use refusal as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.” If you suspect your BAC exceeds the legal limit, refusing the tests may be a strategic move to avoid a DUI conviction.

If you are facing a DUI charge in the Edwardsville, IL region, Elovitz Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation today.

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