If you are stopped by the police in California because you are suspected of DUI, the police are not required to conduct any of the dozen or so “field sobriety tests” (FSTs), and you have the right to decline these tests. If you are suspected of DUI in California, unless you are on probation for a previous DUI or under age 21, you are not required to take any DUI test prior to being arrested, and after an arrest you are required only to take a blood, breath, or urine test if requested. At no time are you required to submit to a field sobriety test. In Orange County, if you are arrested for DUI on the basis of a field sobriety test, get legal help at once by contacting an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney. Most people are familiar with most of the FSTs used by California law enforcement agencies. The tests include:
- the walk-and-turn test
- the one-leg stand test
- the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test
- the finger-to-nose test
- the alphabet test
- rapidly touching four fingers to the thumb
- the rapidly alternating hand pat
Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that only three tests – the walk-and-turn, the one-leg-stand, and the HGN test – are in any way effective in detecting intoxication. According to the NHTSA, all other field sobriety tests are unreliable, and their use should be abandoned.
Many California police agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, are now using a small, hand-held, breathalyzer called a “Preliminary Alcohol Screening” (PAS) device. The PAS device was developed to help a police officer decide if there is probable cause to arrest a suspect – in other words, it was developed basically as an FST. Nevertheless, some California judges allow prosecutors to use PAS results as evidence at trial. California drivers should remember that they are not required to take any DUI test of any kind prior to being arrested (unless you are under 21 or on probation for DUI). If you are stopped for suspicion of DUI in Orange County, be polite and cooperative, but decline any test prior to an arrest, exercise your right to remain silent, and if you are arrested for DUI in Orange County, contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately.