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Field Sobriety Tests in California

Santa Rosa Field Sobriety Test Attorney – (707) 418-5352

A police officer may tell you to take a field sobriety test after you have been pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) but that does not mean you must take one. In fact, there are no immediate legal ramifications for refusing to take an optional field sobriety test but there could be massive consequences if you do take one. Despite this truth, you are probably never going to be told it by law enforcement.

If you were arrested for a DUI after taking a field sobriety test that you otherwise would not have taken had you known your full rights, you should contact the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. to connect with our Santa Rosa DUI attorney. With more than a decade’s worth of experience handling criminal law cases and a focus on DUI defense, we have proven ourselves to be the reliable, tenacious defenders the people of Sonoma County need.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests in California

There are a few standardized field sobriety tests that California highway patrol officers tend to use to try to determine if a driver is intoxicated.

The three most common field sobriety tests are:

  • One-leg stand: The driver will be instructed to stand on one leg for an extended period of time without the assistance of their arms for balance.
  • Walk-and-turn: The driver is told to walk a straight line without using their arms as balance, reach the end of it, turn around sharply, and repeat the walk.
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus test: The driver must follow the lit end of a penlight with their eyes and with no movement of their head.

The officer who administers a field sobriety test in California looks for signs of unsteadiness and listens for strange comments that could indicate intoxication. Although each test is somewhat unique, they each share one thing in common: they should not be taken.

Subjective Evidence is One-Sided

There is no science behind the methods of a field sobriety test in California. Rather than working with concrete evidence of sobriety or inebriation, the conclusion is entirely up to the police officer giving the tests. Evidence that is purely subjective cannot be fair and balanced. If you agree to take a field sobriety test in California, in essence, all you are doing is agreeing to give the prosecution some free evidence to use against you later. If you refuse the tests respectfully, you hand them no such advantage.

Chemical Tests Should Be Taken

Before you refuse any test, ask the police officer if it is mandatory. If they say no, as they should for any field sobriety test, you should go ahead and refuse. If they say yes, such as in the case of chemical tests, you should probably take the test. Otherwise, you face immediate, irrefutable consequences.

Chemical tests taken at the station are not optional. A chemical test is a blood, breath, or urine test that produces blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level results. If you decline to take such a test, the California DMV can remove your driving privileges for one year or more, even if you are completely sober. As this suspension is an administrative penalty, not a criminal punishment, no criminal defense attorney in the country can help you fight it.

Retain Our Attorney in Santa Rosa

Whether you took a field sobriety test, a chemical test, or no test at all, our Santa Rosa DUI lawyer can help defend you from the excessive penalties often used by the criminal justice system. Our reputation has been built upon thousands of criminal cases we have handled and has been backed by a long history of appreciative client testimonials.

Call (707) 418-5352 to request your free consultation and learn what we can do for you.

Why You Can Rely on Our Firm:

  • Aggressive, proactive approach to handling criminal cases.
  • Client-oriented services.
  • 24/7 availability by phone.
  • Hands-on guidance and support through the criminal justice system.


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