If you ever see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, then you’re likely familiar with that stomach-dropping feeling. The important thing is to keep calm and be polite and respectful.
It’s also essential to know your rights during a traffic stop, including the right to refuse a field sobriety test.
Factors that affect a field sobriety test
Police officers use field sobriety tests if they believe a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. They are designed to test both physical and cognitive impairment. The three tests sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (following object with the eyes)
- One-leg Stand
However, there are several reasons why a sober person may fail a field sobriety test, including:
- Anxiety from being pulled over
- Physical health problems such as obesity, balance issues or physical disabilities
You can refuse a field sobriety test if you are pulled over, but there may be consequences for doing so. When you received your Illinois driver’s license, you gave your implied consent to chemical and field sobriety tests. If the police officer suspects you are under the influence of cannabis and you refuse a field sobriety test, it is an automatic 12-month suspension of your driver’s license.
It can be argued that field sobriety test findings are subjective. They are based on the police officer’s observations, assumptions and biases. Their training and experience can influence their interpretation. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for these tests to give a false positive, leading to the detainment of sober individuals.
If you’re facing charges for refusing to take a field sobriety test, it’s crucial that you discuss your situation with someone who can protect your rights.