Can the Police Arrest Me Even If I Pass a Field Sobriety Test? 

Can the Police Arrest Me Even If I Pass a Field Sobriety Test?

When a police officer pulls over a driver on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, they will often ask the driver to perform a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). When conducting these tests, officers will assess the driver’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow a series of directions. Unfortunately, many drivers assume performing well on these tests will help them avoid a DUI charge or benefit them in court. Unfortunately, neither are true. In fact, participating in field sobriety tests may make the situation worse.

If you passed a roadside sobriety test in Maryland but the police still arrested you, contact the Law Office of Hillel Traub. Attorney Hillel Traub can launch a thorough investigation into the DUI stop and work to protect your freedom.

Maryland’s Three Field Sobriety Tests

Maryland police officers rely on three field sobriety tests to gauge whether further investigation is necessary. They are the:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • Walk and Turn
  • One-Leg Stand
Of the three tests above, only the last two may show signs of impairment. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is only admissible to show the presence of alcohol in a driver’s system, so it generally carries the same weight as an officer simply smelling alcohol on a driver’s breath. The other tests are admissible as evidence in court. The officers will attempt to use the results of these tests to justify the arrest and their request for the driver to submit to a breath test.

Why Does Maryland Use Field Sobriety Tests?

Police officers use field sobriety tests to establish probable cause to arrest an individual on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving. Essentially, officers do not use these tests to determine a person’s drunkenness. Instead, they allow the office to justify an arrest for drunk driving, even if the person passes. However, you must remember that these tests are designed for the driver to fail.

For example, the walk and turn test is not just testing a driver’s ability to walk in a straight line. It is also testing their ability to track the many separate directions and instructions the police officer is giving. Even if you walk in a straight line, an officer may still arrest you for failing other aspects of the test.

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?

Unfortunately, many people fail field sobriety tests even if they are sober. Several factors other than alcohol may affect a person’s ability to complete the tests successfully. For example, people who are overweight may have difficulty walking in a straight line. Similarly, nervous people may have a hard time paying attention and following the officer’s instructions. A DUI defense attorney can also investigate the officer to see if they conducted the field test properly. If they did not, your defense attorney might be able to use that as grounds to drop or reduce the charges.

Can I Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test in Maryland?

There is no penalty in Maryland for refusing to take a field sobriety test. Under the state’s implied consent law, drivers are only required to submit to chemical tests after a police officer arrests them. While the driver can still resist a chemical or breathalyzer test, it may result in hefty fines, jail time, or license suspension. However, refusing a field sobriety test will not result in any civil or criminal penalties. When refusing, remember to be polite to the officer. Being rude and aggressive may escalate the situation.

Speak to an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Today

If a police officer arrested you after passing, failing, or refusing a field sobriety test, contact Attorney Hillel Traub at the Law Office of Hillel Traub. He may be able to help you avoid or reduce the penalties associated with a DUI conviction.

Attorney Traub is a fierce DUI defense attorney who has proudly served Maryland residents for more than 20 years. As a former attorney for the Maryland MVA, you can be confident that Attorney Traub will make every effort to protect your driving privileges and freedom. To schedule a free consultation, call (410) 580-1100 or complete our contact form today.