Challenging a Field Sobriety Test

Many people who are stopped for alleged drunk driving in King County or Snohomish County believe they can avoid criminal charges by cooperating with the police — specifically, agreeing to take field sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg or walking a straight line.

If you've agreed to take these tests, or if you want to know more about your right not to take them, contact John F. Segelbaum, Attorney at Law, in Edmonds, Washington, to schedule a free initial consultation.

Do Not Take a Field Sobriety Test

The field sobriety tests are standardized procedures developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to determine whether a driver is likely to be intoxicated. If you are stopped by the police, they may ask you to take a voluntary field sobriety test.

Do not agree to take the field sobriety test if you are stopped for DUI in Washington.

You cannot be arrested for refusing to take the test. The police may arrest you if they have other reasons to believe you were driving drunk, but they cannot use your failure to take a field sobriety test against you in either driver's license proceedings or the criminal courts.

Consult a Skilled Attorney to Learn About Your Options

If you have already taken the field sobriety tests, were arrested and have now been charged with DUI, there are several things your attorney can do on your behalf.

It may be possible to challenge the validity of the traffic stop. Also, it may be possible, during your criminal trial, to show that the police deviated from the official field sobriety test procedures set out by the NHTSA. In many cases, police fail to administer these tests properly, calling into question their training, their experience and the validity of their conclusions.

Only Take the Official Breath Test

Another test the police may ask you to take at the scene of the arrest is a preliminary breath test (PBT). Unlike the official Datamaster breath test at the police station, the PBT is voluntary, and it cannot be used against you in court as evidence of intoxication. However, it can be used to show that the police had probable cause for an arrest. It may not be in your interests to take the PBT, and it may weaken your defense against a DUI charge later.

To learn more about your rights during a DUI arrest and how an experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect them, contact attorney John F. Segelbaum.