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What happens if I am asked to take a field sobriety test?

Most of us are familiar with field sobriety tests - the image of an intoxicated person touching their fingers to their nose can be found in popular movies and television shows. However, many people are unsure what to do if they find themselves on the side of the road reciting the ABCs backwards.

If you are pulled over for driving under the influence, it would help to know how these tests work and your rights during field testing.

DUIs are in the eye of the officer

While the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed a standardized form of field sobriety testing over the years, many officers will still use non-standardized testing methods. This can lead to inaccurate conclusions.

For instance, both the aforementioned finger-to-nose and ABC tests are examples of non-standardized field sobriety tests. Non-standardized tests are also not admissible evidence in Pennsylvania courts. The three recognized tests by the NHTSA are the walk and turn, the one-legged stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), or the "pen test."

Can I refuse a field sobriety test?

You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test, which may be especially important if an officer asks you to perform a non-standardized test. However, under Pennsylvania law, anyone operating a motor vehicle has given implied consent to a chemical test of their breath or blood. If you refuse all standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests, an officer may request a chemical test.

What if I am charged?

If an officer charges you with a DUI, whether they used a field sobriety or chemical test, contacting an attorney can help to understand the charges you face and the potential penalties. An attorney can work with you to fight the charges and reduce sentencing.

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