Any number of things can go wrong while you're driving along New York roadways. Another motorist might cut you off at a merge, you could get in a major traffic jam, get a flat tire or have a minor fender-bender in a grocery store parking lot. Worse yet, you might be one of many travelers whose day gets off course when you see flashing police car lights in your rear-view mirror, signaling you to pull over.
It may be a mere inconvenience if the officer simply issues a speed warning and sends you back on the road with no other consequences. However, it may be far more than that if the officer asks you to step out of your car and take a field sobriety test. There are three common field tests most New York police use to determine if they have probable cause for arrest. There are also non-standardized tests that can land you in jail if you fail to perform well.
Standardized versus non-standardized field sobriety tests
If a New York police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test during a traffic stop, you are under no legal obligation to comply. There are no administrative or legal penalties for refusal, although prosecutors know how to use the fact that you refused against you in court. The following list includes facts regarding standardized versus non-standardized field tests that may impact your situation:
- Police usually use standardized tests to determine probable cause to make DUI arrests.
- Such tests include the walk-and-turn exercise, a one-leg stance test and a horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
- During each test, an officer observes your ability to follow simple instructions, perform physical movements and use cognitive skills to fulfill certain tasks.
- Non-standardized tests are often more challenging than standardized tests.
- Such tests include leaning backward while looking up at the sky with your arms outstretched, tipping your head back while standing with feet close together and alternating between fingertips to touch your nose with closed eyes.
The problem is that many people in New York or elsewhere would have trouble performing such tasks even when completely sober. This is why such examinations are not reliable to determine if a person has illegally operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Where to seek support
Following your arrest, authorities will likely allow you to call your spouse or another family member to inform them of your circumstances. Most people also request legal representation to help protect their rights and try to avoid conviction.