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Field Sobriety Testing Administration in Fredericksburg DUI Stops

Field sobriety tests, often called standardized field sobriety tests or SFSTs, need to be administered in a certain way. This refers to the fact that there are certain conditions and manners in which they are designed to be given for their results to have any weight in court.

During a field sobriety test, the defendant could have been treated unfairly and their constitutional rights could have been violated. A Fredericksburg DUI defense lawyer can ensure that a person was treated properly during a field sobriety test in Fredericksburg.

Factors of Administration

Some of these factors include being administered on a well-lit, flat area that is free of debris so a person who is wearing footwear and clothes are comfortable for movement. If all these factors are not met, there may be issues that would affect the interpretation of the results of the test.

In addition, certain instructions are supposed to be given in a certain manner. For example, the officers are instructed to ask about physical limitations, health limitations, and whether or not the person is able to accurately understand their questions.

All of those things matter in determining whether or not the test was properly administered. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created a student course to train officers on how to properly administer the standardized field sobriety tests.

Importance of Field Sobriety Test Results

The field sobriety tests are given a considerable amount of weight during a DUI trial. The amount of influence varies from case to case and there are some circumstances in which the field sobriety tests would be given lots of weight.

One of the most common circumstances in which field sobriety tests are given a large amount of weight are cases in which there is no record of driving behavior and potentially no breath test or blood test on which to rely. Those cases may include accident cases, parking lot cases, or cases in which the person is asleep at the wheel. In addition, refusal cases, cases in which someone does not submit to a breath or blood test, put more emphasis on the person’s performance during the field sobriety test, also.

Field Sobriety Tests Refusal

Typically, officers in Fredericksburg are going to administer field sobriety tests consistent with the NHSTA guidelines as well as their training at the Rappahannock Criminal Justice Academy or other regional criminal justice academies. They may offer the HGN, nine-step walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand test, but they may also offer specific individual tests based on their training experience as well as the PBT.

A person can and should always refuse to perform the field sobriety tests if stopped for suspicion of DUI. There are very few factual circumstances in which a person should voluntarily submit to performing field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are used to gather incriminating information against the person and they are not designed for a person to pass. They are designed for officers to gain clues of impairment to use to justify probable cause to make an arrest decision.

A person has the right to refuse these voluntary tests. Exercising that voluntary right is not an admission of guilt nor can it be weighed as part of the consciousness of guilt. Therefore, a person gains nothing by taking the test and has much to lose. It is important to know that a person has the ability to refuse these tests and should exercise that ability.

Contact a DUI Attorney

A DUI is a serious charge that can lead to long-term jail time. Consulting with a Fredericksburg DUI lawyer after a field sobriety test is crucial to do. Having a clear understanding of the proper way a field sobriety test should be handled is important to know when building a defense. Please contact an experienced Fredericksburg DUI attorney today.

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