Have you been stopped late at night in Missouri or Kansas for a traffic violation or speeding infraction and asked, "Have you had anything to drink tonight?" If your answer is yes, you are in for the worst pop quiz of your life, otherwise known as the DUI / DWI Field Sobriety Tests.
The Big Three
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established these three tests as their standard of Field Sobriety Testing. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (Eye test), the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand test.
Other tests may include reciting, not singing, the alphabet forwards or backwards, counting, etc., depending on what city or county you are stopped in. The Investigating Officer may ask you to recite the alphabet in a specified manner such as, "Can you start with the letter C and stop on the letter R?" or "Can you count backwards from 89 to 65?" These tests are not NHTSA approved Field Sobriety Tests, but will be counted against you as signs of impairment should you fail.
While the easiest solution is to designate a driver, not drink and drive, or take a cab, this doesn't always happen. You feel alright to drive home and get pulled over for a traffic ticket, a tag light, or for a tail light that is out. It happens. Law enforcement officers in both Missouri and Kansas working the late shift are experts in DUI / DWI detection. That is their job and they are very well trained. With hundreds of arrests for DUI they will stop you for any justifiable reason, especially late at night, to investigate a potential DUI.
Can I Refuse Field Sobriety Testing?
It is not a chargeable offense to refuse the Field Sobriety Testing, it might make the officer unhappy and you may be arrested anyway, but you do have the right to refuse any Field Sobriety testing. You also want to explain to the officer any medical conditions that might prevent you from successfully completing the testing.
After taking or refusing to take the FST's, you may be asked to take a PBT (Preliminary Breath Test) at the scene of the initial stop. Kansas no longer requires an advisory before asking you to take a PBT and Refusing to take the PBT at the scene no longer is a chargeable offense. In fact, the results of your PBT testing are not admissible in Kansas courts. However, refusing to take the breath test at the station could have a bigger potential impact on your drivers license and the resultant criminal case.
The first thing to consider is you are dealing with a police officer who is trained in DUI Law Enforcement, who can and is likely to arrest you for DUI. You want to be respectful. You do not want to be argumentative or resist the officer conducting the investigation.
What Happens When I am Stopped for DUI?
You are going to be asked to step outside of your car. You are required to turn your ignition off and exit your vehicle if an officer directs you to do so. What you do not have to do is answer any questions, or perform the Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are designed for failure. You are not given any opportunity to practice these tests.
Unfortunately the situation that you are facing at that point is that your chances of being arrested and being charged with DUI are pretty high. If you do the Field Sobriety Tests, you are going to be arrested because you may not pass them. If you refuse the Field Sobriety Tests, you probably will be arrested anyway.
How Can a DUI Charge Be Defended?
The bottom line is, if they judged you on the way you walk, talk and stand normally, that would be completely different, but this is not the case. You are asked to walk heel-to-toe, with your arms straight down, and turn in a very specific method. All the while, you have traffic driving by and at least two or three police cars around you. The level of the testing surface may or may not be even and may be poorly lit. It may be dark, raining, or even snowing. Add to this the passing traffic, police emergency lights, and the odds of passing the Field Sobriety Tests are not great. We can help defend your rights in a DUI/DWI arrest by conducting a thorough review of all evidence including police reports, body camera footage, dash camera footage, police station cameras, and Intoxilyzer videos and maintenance logs.