A New York police officer stops you for swerving, dangerous lane change, or other erratic driving. While speaking to you, the officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Maybe the officer noticed slurred speech, forgetfulness, or other signs of intoxication.
At this point, the officer has suspicions of DWI, but doesn’t have concrete evidence of alcohol or drug consumption. One way to establish firm evidence of intoxication in New York is through a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test is a set of physical activities that are straightforward for an individual of clear mind, but difficult or impossible for someone under the influence of alcohol.
Each year a New York DWI lawyer receives hundreds of questions about taking, passing, failing and refusing the field sobriety test. Here’s the answer to several of those common questions.
“Can I Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?”
As a driver in New York, you have given implied consent to submit to a chemical test for the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system. This means there are penalties for refusing to take a breath test or test for a controlled substance.
This implied consent does not extend to the field sobriety test, and you can refuse to take it. The Law enforcement must request you take the field sobriety test and must receive your consent. However, just because you have the ability to refuse a field sobriety test, doesn’t mean you should.
“Should I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?”
There are certain flaws in the New York field sobriety test. The biggest concern for drivers and a New York DWI lawyer is that the test is subjective. Some people will naturally perform the physical requests better, while others may stumble or have inaccuracies because of nerves, anxiety, or poor motor skills. It is then up to the police officer to determine the reason for the failure. To counteract these possibilities, the National Traffic Safety Administration has released a set of guidelines for officers, but these can’t be perfectly followed. This leaves substantial reason to refuse the test.
Another reason to refuse is the knowledge that you are certain to fail. Failure of the field sobriety test gives law enforcement greater evidence of DWI. In fact, in the situations where the officer has strong reason to suspect intoxication, the only reason to request a field sobriety test is to bolster later DWI charges.
However, refusing a field sobriety test can be used later in the arrest and prosecution of a DWI defendant. It could be utilized at trial as further evidence of the driver’s guilt and an officer may request a breath or other chemical test, regardless of how or whether the driver completes a field sobriety test.
“What Happens If I Fail the Field Sobriety Test?”
Failing a field sobriety test is likely to result in your arrest for DWI. The purpose of administering a field sobriety test is to establish probable cause that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In most cases, failure of the test is enough evidence for probable cause. Yet, a New York DWI lawyer can tell you that failing a field sobriety test can have repercussions long after an arrest.
The results of a field sobriety test, including failing the test or refusal to take it, may be admissible in court. The prosecutor is permitted to use the failure of the test as further evidence of intoxication, as well as, the physical and mental implications of alcohol or drugs at the time of arrest.
“Who Can Help If I Failed a Field Sobriety Test?”
If you are arrested for DWI on the basis of a failed sobriety test, it’s time to contact a New York DWI lawyer. It is likely the police officer will require a breath or other chemical test at the police station, and pending the results of that test charge you with DWI. Once charged, you will eventually need to face those charges in court. This is a trial that could result in a substantial fine or even jail sentence.
If you refused or failed a field sobriety test, Greco Neyland Attorneys at Law can help. To speak with one of our experienced New York DWI lawyers, call (212) 951-1300. Our team can immediately schedule a free consultation at one of our three local offices.
The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only. This Post may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from Greco Neyland Attorneys at Law or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.
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