Field Sobriety Tests

Know your rights. Get an Arizona attorney.

Over our years defending the rights of people accused of crimes, we've worked with many people who were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) due to the results of field sobriety test (FST) results. Facing charges based on an FST may seem like a full-blown crisis. At Brown, Naegle, Crider & Jensen LLC, we're here to set the record straight.

Mesa DUI defense attorney Charlie Naegle knows the truth about field sobriety tests. He's prepared to set the record straight, tell you what law enforcement officials don't want you to know, and defend your rights in court.

Field Sobriety Tests Compared to Chemical Tests

When you are pulled over by a police officer, the officer will want to test your sobriety curbside. This is why it is called a field sobriety test - police conduct their "research" then and there. There are three commonly used types of field sobriety tests in Arizona:

  1. Walk a line: The officer will tell you to walk a straight line, foot behind foot, without using your arms for balance. Is the line even straight? Is it drawn on level terrain? There is plenty that can go wrong here to dramatically skew the results.
  2. Balance: You will be asked to stand on one foot for an extended duration. We invite you to attempt to do this now to see how "easy" it is, especially if you are wearing uncomfortable shoes, have a foot injury, or are husky.
  3. Eye focus: The horizontal gaze nystagmus test involves shining a bright light in your pupils and telling you to follow the end of a pen with just your eyes, not your head. If your eye shakes, you are determined to be intoxicated. The results of this test are questionable due to the eye's natural reaction to look away from harsh sources of light.

What they won't tell you is that you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests without immediate penalty. This is distinct from chemical tests, such as breath and blood tests that you may have to take back at the station. Refusing to take a chemical test to analyze your blood alcohol content (BAC) may result in an instant - and lengthy - license suspension that is nearly impossible to challenge. For this reason, we advise in nearly all situations that you do not refuse a chemical test.

Why are you permitted to refuse a field sobriety test without losing your license? Put simply, even the criminal justice system knows that FSTs are unreliable. Even in ideal conditions, the outcome of the test is still 100% determined by an officer's own discretion, not anything scientific. And conditions are never ideal. A factor as unnoticeable as a lump in the ground or anxious nerves could make you "fail" an FST.

Take control. Protect your rights.

If you're stopped by a police officer, we recommend that you politely decline to take a field sobriety test. But if you've already taken one and are now facing charges, you need to contact us right away. Attorney Naegle and his team know how to challenge the results of field sobriety tests and help you fight for a favorable outcome. Call 480-378-9000 today.

3850 E Baseline Rd Suite 112
Mesa, AZ 85206
local phone: (480) 378-9000