FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS (FSTs)

There will no doubt be many posts about DUI law, but I figured I would kick off my first post with a brief one on Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), which include such classics as the one-leg stand, the walk and turn, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), and the use of portable breath testing devices (note-the roadside device is not the breathalyzer that you might be asked to take after being arrested on suspicion of DUI--the roadside can only be used against you in a limited manner). First, I in no way approve of impaired driving, but even a few drinks with dinner could land you in a position to be asked to take these tests, so everyone needs to be prepared for how to handle things. Do not take them. I would politely decline due to the highly subjective nature of the tests, which are used to determine if there is enough probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Taking them simply provides evidence for the officer to arrest and later convict you. Believe it or not, the State regularly proceeds on DUI cases when one performs poorly on field sobriety yet blows or blood tests below the legal limit of .08. Whether you take FSTs or not, If the officer decides to arrest you for DUI you will then be asked to take a state administered test (blood, breath, urine, or a combination thereof). The decision on whether or not to submit is a topic for another day, but, in my opinion, that decision is a complicated one that depends on several factors and it has major driver's license ramifications. I'll end with a quick story. I became certified in FSTs with mostly new law enforcement officers, and our final exam of sorts was to perform FSTs on actual drunk people. It was a good time and very educational. Anyhow, every student had to make a decision on whether to arrest for DUI or not. The blood alcohol content (BAC) of the drinkers was tested both before and after the exercise. In the end, we found out the BAC of the drinkers and it turned out that several students would have arrested a drinker who had actually not had a drop of alcohol. That is how subjective these tests are.