In DUI law, while a client will rarely be afforded the opportunity to call his attorney before the client has to decide to perform a field sobriety test, I have been asked this question by individuals who want to know what they should and should not do if they are ever pulled over for suspected drunk driving.
Officers often have people perform various forms of field sobriety tests, which are tests that are usually performed close to the location where you have been pulled over. The three most common coordination tests are the One-Legged Stand, the Walk-and-Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. The officers have people perform these tests so they can determine if they think you have any of the signs of intoxication that the officers are trained to spot.
Some appellate courts have held that a refusal to submit to a field sobriety test may be introduced into evidence at a DUI trial—this means that your refusal to submit to the test may be considered when the Court is trying to decide guilt. However, while the trial court may note that you refused the field tests, most trial courts will find that the State is lacking crucial evidence it needs to prove their case and they will not hold it against you. If the refusal is admitted into evidence, the defendant can be given the opportunity to explain why they refused to take the test, but most of the time this is not necessary. Refusing the field sobriety tests in Illinois in a polite and respectful manner will normally lead to a successful outcome for your DUI case.
Given that you are unlikely to have the opportunity to call an attorney before you must decide whether to perform the tests, it is important that you consider ahead of time whether you want to perform these tests. Only you will know what kind of condition you are in and what the likely result of the coordination tests will be. But if you think there is a chance that you will not pass the tests, what I recommend is that you politely refuse to submit to the coordination tests. By this point, the officer has already pulled you over and may have even arrested you, and the officer will be looking for reasons to validate pulling you over or arresting you. Because of this, an officer is not likely to record observations that will likely assist in your defense of the DUI charge.
Regardless of whether you decided to perform the field sobriety tests or you refused to perform the field tests, you should still consult with an experienced DUI Defense attorney like those at John W. Callahan, Ltd. Don't face a DUI charge by yourself– contact the DUI firm John W. Callahan, Ltd. if you need representation.
Posted by DUI Lawyer John W Callahan
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