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When a driver is pulled over by law enforcement for suspected drinking and driving, they may be asked to step out of the car and perform certain physical tests. These are known as standardized field sobriety tests (SFST). They are done in order to determine if the driver is intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol. The tests are to be used as evidence or probable cause in order to arrest a driver for driving under the influence (DUI). If you were charged with a DUI, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Maryland DUI defense attorney for assistance with your case. 

Examples of Field Sobriety Tests

Drivers who are suspected of being under the influence may be asked to participate in standardized field sobriety tests. The three certified tests are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: This is when the driver is asked to track the officer’s pen, finger, or flashlight just by using his eyes and not moving his head. The officer is looking for a jerking motion in the eye, which is called Nystagmus. 
  • Walk and Turn Test: There are two phases of this test. First, the driver has to stand in an instructed position with their right foot in front of their left with their arms at their sides. They then must walk nine steps, heel to toe, and make a proper turn. Failure to perform the test as instructed can lead to probably cause for an arrest. 
  • One Leg Stand Test: This is when the driver stands on one foot with the other raised six inches off the ground, and counts to 30. The officer is looking at how the driver balances, counts, and keeps their hands by their sides.

Portable Breath Test: The driver may be asked to blow into a portable breath test on the side of the road to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). 

Can I Refuse Sobriety Tests?

When an individual finds themselves pulled over for a potential DUI, it is crucial to know that there is no legal penalty for refusing to participate in field sobriety tests in the state of Maryland. They are voluntary. It is also important to know that after someone refuses to participate, the officer will likely decide to arrest them. However, most people are arrested after doing field sobriety tests anyway, so refusal to do so ensures there is no evidence of intoxication against the driver. 

How Are the Tests Standardized?

The official name of these roadside tests is Standard Field Sobriety Tests. The word “standardized” means that there is an official and correct way to conduct them. If an officer fails to meet these rules and is incorrect in administering the tests, the results may be considered invalid and not used as evidence against a driver.

Contact our Firm

The Law Offices of Debra A. Saltz has decades of experience representing clients in Howard County and Anne Arundel County, Maryland who have been charged with a crime or injured by another party’s negligence. Contact the Law Offices of Debra A. Saltz today to discuss your case.

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