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What happens during a field sobriety test?

Posted on in OWI

When it comes to drunk driving arrests, most Wisconsin residents know about Breathalyzer tests and the fact that a test result that renders a .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) will usually result in an immediate arrest. However, Breathalyzer tests are not always accurate, and they can often get thrown out in court so they can't be used as evidence against the victim.

As such, a police officer will try to gather more evidence against a defendant by taking notes about his or her appearance and behavior, and by subjecting the defendant to a field sobriety test.

A field sobriety test involves police officers taking a driver through a series of tests. Police will ask the diver to perform different tasks and judge the person's ability to successfully complete those tasks. Video footage and evidence gathered during the field sobriety test will then be used against the defendant during his or her criminal proceedings.

Here are a few things an officer could ask a driver to do in a field sobriety test:

  • Stand on one leg.
  • Perform a gaze test. The officer may hold a light up and ask the driver to follow the light with his or her eyes.
  • Walk in a straight line from heel to toe.
  • Recite the alphabet backward.

If police have pulled you over and want to conduct a field sobriety test, you may have the right to refuse the test and also refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. If you choose to do this, then prosecutors may not have as much criminal evidence to use against you in court. However, refusing to work with police like this will likely result in your immediate arrest, and it could have other negative consequences for your criminal proceedings. Before you make any decisions about submitting to field sobriety tests, Breathalyzer tests or chemical tests during a drunk driving stop, make sure you have fully weighed all your legal options.

Source: Findlaw, "DUI Offense Basics," accessed May 25, 2018

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