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Be careful how you respond to officers about field sobriety tests

Flashing lights and sirens behind your vehicle signaled that the officer wanted you to pull over. At first, you hoped the officer simply wanted you out of the way to get to someone else, but that didn't happen. Once you pulled off the roadway, the officer approached you and began a conversation.

At some point, the officer suspected you of drunk driving and asked you to step out of your vehicle. You may have known what the next request of the officer would likely be, and that is to administer field sobriety tests. Right here is where you may want to take a pause and carefully consider your response. Your decision could have a significant effect on what happens next.

The odds are you will fail the tests

Any number of factors outside of alcohol consumption could cause you to fail these tests. You may be one of those people who have horrible balance no matter what. Perhaps you are older and your strength just isn't enough to balance on one foot for any appreciable length of time. You may suffer from an injury that prevents you from passing these tests as well. As you can see, the odds are against you even if you are sober.

Another issue that stacks the odds against you is the subjectivity of the officer. His or her biases play a large role in whether you would pass the tests or not. Even if the bias is subconscious, it will play a role. Most officers are not purposely biased, but since they already suspect you of impairment, they can't help it.

Are you doomed from the start?

If you are now thinking that you are going to jail no matter what you do, don't despair just yet. What you may not know is that you are not legally required to participate in field sobriety tests. However, politely and calmly refusing to participate will not guarantee that the officer won't arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving. What it will do is not provide additional probable cause to the officer or evidence to prosecutors.

If you do decide to participate in the tests and fail them, it may still be possible to dispute their validity in court. In fact, you can thoroughly review every aspect of your situation from when the officer pulled you over to when he or she placed you under arrest. You may discover that the officer made mistakes and/or somehow violated your rights. At the very least, you may identify the options available to you in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

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Wilmington, DE 19801

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