Wish TV reported on May 30, 2019, that a woman suspected of driving under the influence gave a text-book response to the Carter County deputy who requested she submit to field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, the text-book reply covered pretty much everything you shouldn’t do if requested to take a field sobriety test.
The woman driver did agree to take the field sobriety tests the officer required. She failed because she didn’t follow the officer’s instructions. If she had stopped there, she might have just been charged with DUI. Unfortunately for her, the driver’s next steps led to charges of resisting arrest, assault on an officer, vandalism of a police vehicle, an implied consent charge, and an order of protection violation.
Her steps in response to being placed under arrest included:
- Telling the deputy not to touch her
- Acting combatively, kicking, and screaming
- Continuing to kick and scream after five more officers arrived
- Kicking the side window until it made a cracking sound
- Doing “a back flip in the back of the patrol car and kicking the officer on the top and front of his head”
- Kicking and screaming inside the local jail
The right to give field sobriety tests
Law enforcement officers do have the right to stop someone they reasonably believe drove under the influence and ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests. Drivers, however, do not have to submit to field sobriety tests. There should be no legal consequences for refusing to do the field tests. There is one practical consequence. The officer will then likely also ask the driver to take a chemical test such as a breath, blood, or urine test. Drivers do give their informed consent to these chemical tests. Drivers can also refuse to take these chemical tests, but they can they be charged with violating the implied consent laws. They may lose their license if they refuse to take a chemical test.
Standard field sobriety tests include:
- Standing on one leg for 30 seconds
- Walking and turning
- A horizontal gaze test
There are defenses to DUI charges and implied consent violations such as showing the officer didn’t have reasonable grounds to stop you. Law enforcement needs to observe the driver speeding, weaving, or doing something to indicate they might have been intoxicated. In the reported case, the officer responded to a single-car crash. The female driver said she wasn’t sure how her car got into a ditch. The officer noticed a trail of debris from the highway to her location.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or any related offense, there are defenses that may apply. The grounds for being stopped can be challenged. The validity of the tests can be contested. There may be other factual and legal defenses. At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we’re not afraid to question police officer testimony. We work to dismissals and acquittals. In some cases, we can negotiate a plea agreement. To speak with a strong advocate, call us at 615-412-1121 or complete our contact form. We have offices in Franklin, Columbia and Brentwood.