Virginia doesn’t play around when it comes to drunk driving. Even a first-time DUI offense will generally leave you with a suspended license, a criminal record and a lot of fines — and the penalties only get worse from there.
That makes it particularly wise to understand the danger of field sobriety tests.
Why are field sobriety tests dangerous?
Unlike a Breathalyzer or other chemical tests that seek to measure your actual blood alcohol content with cold, scientific data, field sobriety tests try to determine whether or not a driver is impaired through means that are wholly subjective.
In other words, how well you do may rely on the judgment call of the officer watching you. That’s not comforting, especially when you know that the officer is already suspicious that you’re impaired. Plus, it’s very easy to fail a roadside sobriety test for reasons that have nothing to do with intoxication or drug use.
Studies indicate that, even under ideal conditions, trained officers incorrectly identified a participant as intoxicated 47% of the time based on the way they performed the roadside tests, like the “one-legged stand.” Trying to perform that kind of test at the side of the road, under stress, possibly with an officer’s flashlight in your eyes, can be extremely difficult.
Your ability to manage roadside testing correctly can also be hampered by things like:
- Your level of fatigue or ordinary eye strain from work
- Inner ear problems that affect your balance
- Muscular problems that limit your coordination
- Back injuries and circulation problems
Essentially, it comes down to this: For multiple reasons, your chances of passing the test are slim. Agreeing to take the tests can rarely help you — but they can hurt you. Since (unlike a Breathalyzer test) there are no mandatory penalties for refusing a roadside sobriety test, that’s usually the smart decision.
What happens if you’re charged with a DWI or DUI?
If you’re charged with a DWI or DUI, exercise your right to remain silent and contact an attorney immediately. You need an aggressive, experienced defender to protect your rights.