Field Sobriety Tests

If you're pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of DUI, there is a good chance the officer is going to ask you to take one or more "Field Sobriety Tests."

These tests supposedly help an officer determine if a driver is too intoxicated to be operating a vehicle. They challenge your physical coordination, mental alertness, reaction time, and ability to follow instructions.

These tests aren't scientifically accurate and depend a lot on the expertise and opinion of the office who is giving them. Many people, for one reason or another, cannot perform these tests to an officer's satisfaction even if they are sober! But they may be subject to a DUI arrest because of that.  Submitting to Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona is purely voluntary!!! You are "required" by law to perform them, however, obviously you cannot be forced to perform them, i.e., DON'T EVER DO THEM, their is no legal punishment for refusing to perform the Field Sobreity Tests.

The law in Arizona requires that you submit to a chemical test, i.e., breath (the large machine, Intoxillyzer 8000 at the station/DUI processing van), and/or blood and/or urine.  If you refuse, there are potential civil (non-criminal) administrative penalties to your Arizona driving privileges.

There are a number of these standardized Field Sobriety Tests, but most officers will choose one (or more) of the following:

  • Walk and Turn: You will take nine heel-to-toe steps along a line, turn, and take nine heel-to-toe steps back. The officer is looking to see if you can keep your balance and follow instructions. Negative signs are if you begin early, stop during the test, leave space between heel and toe, step off the line, or lose balance while turning or an improper turn.
  • One Leg Stand: You begin by standing with heels together and arms at the side. The office will ask you to raise one leg six inches off the ground while counting out loud until he tells you to stop. Negative signs include raising your arms, swaying, hopping, putting the foot down, an inability to stand still, body tremors, muscle tension, and any statements you make during the test.
  • Finger to Nose: You start by standing with heels together, eyes closed, and standing erect. You will then be instructed to bring your index finger to the tip of your nose. Negative signs: body sway, body tremors, eyelid tremors, muscle tension, and any statements you make that support a finding of intoxication.
  • The Balance Test/Internal Clock: You are instructed to stand at attention, close your eyes, tilt your head back and count to 30. Negative signs: an inability to stand still or steady, body or eyelid tremors, the opening of the eyes to maintain balance, swaying, muscle tension, and any statements you make. The officer is also testing your sense of time, which will usually be slower in the case of alcohol or depressants, or fast in the case of stimulants.
  • Horizontal Gaze Test: You will be told to stand at attention with your eyes straight ahead. The officer will hold a pencil about 12-15 inches in front of your face and slowly move it to one side. The officer is looking for a distinctive "jerking" of the eye that begins as you look to one side. Supposedly, involuntary jerking before reaching 45 degrees from the front is indicative of a blood alcohol concentration over .08%. The smoothness of eye movement is also a factor.
  • Preliminary Alcohol Screening: This is where the officer uses a portable breath (PBT) device to determine the presence of alcohol in the system.  NEVER BLOW INTO THIS! Read more about Breath and Blood Testing.

Why an experienced DUI defense lawyer is so important

William L. Morris is an experienced DUI defense lawyer who knows the ins and outs of giving these tests and can find the loopholes in the prosecutors' case. 

If you were arrested on DUI charges after taking a field sobriety test, I urge you to contact my office right away

Arizona DUI law does not require you to take any field sobriety tests. The reality is that officers have usually made up their minds to make a DUI arrest before testing even begins; the tests are simply additional evidence they will use against you at trial. However, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test under the Admin Per Se law, you will automatically lose your license for at least one year.

I will not rest until all charges have been dropped or reduced to a much lesser offense, or we make the State prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the crime at trial. I am here for you, to advocate for your rights and to help you get through this difficult time.

Free Initial Consultation - Flat Rate - Financing Available

At The Law Office of William L. Morris, we offer a FREE initial telephone consultation. We'll go over your case and offer some strategies.

When you hire us to go to work for you, our "flat rate" will give you peace of mind in knowing exactly what we'll charge and that we aren't "running up the clock." We also have convenient financing available to make it easier for you to get effective representation from a real Phoenix DUI lawyer and not just a public defender.

Talk to an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer NOW!

If you need a DUI defense lawyer, call William L. Morris day or night. If you don't reach Phoenix DUI lawyer William L. Morris directly, your call will be forwarded instantly and he'll return your call within minutes - 24 hours a day.

If you prefer, you can contact us by email. Your message will be immediately forwarded to your Arizona DUI lawyer's phone and you'll get a response within minutes.


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