DUI Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests in Pennsylvania

What happens if you get pulled over for DUI? Are you required to take the field sobriety tests? What happens if you fail them?

Information about Field Sobriety Testing in PA and Your Legal Rights

If you were pulled over for DUI recently and asked to perform a field sobriety test or preliminary breathalyzer test, you probably have questions about your rights, what you should have done or what can be done now, depending on whether you were charged with DUI in PA.

What are field sobriety tests?

Perhaps outdated, Standardized Field Sobriety Tests were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the 1970’s in order to establish a methodology to evaluate intoxication by either drugs or alcohol.

A field sobriety test can include different tests such as the “follow my finger” test, the one leg stand test, as well as the “walk and turn” test. It is a method law enforcement officers use to determine whether they should charge you with DUI or let you go.

Another test an officer is likely to administer is the preliminary breathalyzer test. This is not the same as registering your blood content level, which is another test given after you have been charged or arrested for DUI.

Why would a police officer administer a field sobriety test?

Generally speaking, a police officer will not pull you over without suspicion that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And to be under suspicion they may have witnessed erratic driving, speeding, missed turn signals, not obeying traffic laws, etc.

However, just because a person is driving erratically or runs a stop light, does not mean they are under the influence.

When a person under the influence is pulled over, most people try to pretend they are not under the influence. The field sobriety tests are a way for law enforcement to make a better decision on whether to bring charges against a person for DUI and have them take a breath or blood test or simply cite them for bad driving.

What happens if I refuse to take the field sobriety tests?

No one is required to comply with the field sobriety tests or the preliminary breathalyzer.

Whether you should do them, however, is dependent on whether you think you can pass them and prove to the officer you should not be arrested for DUI. Because if you don’t comply, they may assume you have something to hide and arrest you.

It is always best to fully cooperate with the officer and let them know you understand they are merely doing their job, even if at the time you feel it is unjust and an infringement of your freedom and rights.

Do I have to blow into a preliminary breathalyzer if I am pulled over for DUI?  

No. Pennsylvania police may use a handheld personal breath test device and ask you to blow into it as part of their DUI stop. These test results are not admissible in court, but can be used to determine whether a person should be brought in for more testing.

You have the legal right to refuse to blow into a preliminary breathalyzer BEFORE your arrest, during a field sobriety check. However, doing so will most likely result in being charged with DUI.

After being arrested for DUI, and within two hours of being arrested, you will be asked to take either a blood test or a breathalyzer that will register your blood alcohol content level (BAC). This test will determine which tier your should be placed under, which determines the severity of the penalties you face.

This second breath test or blood test IS required by PennDOT in order for you to keep your license. In addition, if you do not comply, you will be charged with the highest level of BAC. Refusal of a blood or breath test in Pennsylvania after an arrest can mean you will still be convicted, and possibly receive a much harsher sentence.

If, after your DUI arrest, you refuse the breath or blood test to measure BAC level, you will automatically lose your license for at least one year and be charged with the highest level BAC tier, a misdemeanor, and face jail time and heavy fines, even if you barely had two drinks.

Even if, in the end you contest the charges and receive a Not Guilty verdict, you will still face a license suspension from PennDOT for refusing chemical testing. You are perfectly within your rights to refuse testing, but the consequences will more than likely not be to your benefit.

If you failed to submit a blood or breath test, talk to a DUI lawyer right away.

What happens if I am charged with DUI after field sobriety testing?

If you were charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, you undoubtedly have a hundred questions running through your mind. Will I go to jail? Will I lose my license?  Will I be able to afford auto insurance? Will I have a criminal record? Will I lose my job? This is the time to call an experienced DUI Lawyer in Southeast Pennsylvania for a free consultation.

There are lasting consequences for years to come if you are convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania. Facing criminal charges is very scary and stressful. However, not everyone who is charged with DUI is convicted and oftentimes charges can be dismissed or reduced.

A DUI Charge is Not a Conviction

Just because you were charged with DUI does not mean you have been convicted. There are many options to fight and win a DUI in court, reduce the charges and/or keep them off your record. DUI cases are fought and won every day in court.

If you were charged with DUI in PA, call Attorney Saadzoi as soon as possible for free legal consultation. She is an experienced DUI Lawyer in Media, PA

At The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC, we can help. We fight for your charges to be reduced or dropped altogether. We understand mistakes happen and we also know that, sometimes, people are not guilty of crimes they are charged with committing. We also know that sometimes arresting officers make mistakes.

It is stressful to be charged with a crime, not just for the person facing DUI charges, but for their whole family.

Attorney Saadzoi offers free consultations to anyone charged with a DUI in Delaware County, Montgomery County or Chester County – Call Attorney Saadzoi today.

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Different Types of Field Sobriety Tests

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The police officer may ask you to follow their finger back and forth or maybe a light. The officer is checking to see if a person’s eyes dilate or not and whether their eyes can follow the object steadily. It is not a very reliable test to measure sobriety. It is not admissible as evidence in court and can only be used to establish probable cause for administering further tests and making an arrest.

Walk and Turn Test

This is the most common test that we may see in television or movies – an officer asks a person to walk a line, turn around and then walk back. For many people, this is difficult to do even sober and so you are not expected to necessarily do it perfectly. But if you pretty much can’t do it at all or do it very sloppily, that may be an indication that you are under the influence and should not have been driving.

If you have had a few drinks, but are still capable of driving, this test can prove to an officer that you are not under the influence and you may avoid arrest.

One Leg Stand Test

This is another famous test where a person is asked to stand on one leg and touch their nose with their finger. Again, many people can not do this test perfectly when sober, but your reaction to your ability to do it, and how you perform can be an indicator of drug or excessive alcohol use.

Several other tests may also be administered such as counting backward, etc. The police officer may administer all three tests or only one or two. They are attempting to gather evidence to show that they were not wrong in their initial suspicion of DUI. They need to have a basis under which to charge a person with a crime.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Admissible in Court?

No, field sobriety tests are not used as evidence in court, they are not admissible in court to prove someone was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, they can be used to establish probable cause for making an arrest and requesting further testing.

Because field sobriety tests are not reliable, their results can be easily disputed. With any case it is always possible to fight the DUI charges or have them reduced to a bare minimum. Our advice is to talk to a DUI lawyer specifically about your case. Our attorneys can help challenge your arrest and the results of a breath or blood test.

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How The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC Can Help

Attorney Saadzoi has years of experience successfully helping clients fight for their DUI charges reduced, dismissed and resolved.

At The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC, we review the details of your DUI arrest and police reports. We determine if the stop was unlawful and if you were in control of the vehicle. If not, or if there are any other circumstances permitting, we will file motions to gain leverage over the prosecution.

Attorney Saadzoi knows that sometimes good people make mistakes and often times the punishment does not fit the crime. Many people deserve a second chance and treatment programs over harsh prison sentences and large fines that can tarnish their reputation and take away their freedom.

This compassion translates to an aggressive litigator who will work hard for her clients to get the best possible outcome.

Attorney Saadzoi has spent time on both sides of the law as a prosecutor and a public defender. As your lawyer, she will work aggressively to resolve the charges against you.

With the stakes being so high, the help of an experience PA DUI attorney could make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

At The Law Offices of Wana Saadzoi, Esquire LLC, we can help you:

  • Understand your charges;
  • Become aware of your rights under the law;
  • Identify what legal strategies will best help in your case, and;
  • Determine which defenses apply to your case.

Attorney Saadzoi will do everything possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. 


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