Are you required to submit to a Field Sobriety Test in Pennsylvania?

Are you required to submit to a Field Sobriety Test in Pennsylvania?

Field Sobriety Tests are not mandatory in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, by operating a motor vehicle on the roads of the state a driver is presumed to consent to a blood, urine or breath test of his or her blood alcohol content. There is no requirement to take a field sobriety test. You have the right to refuse to submit to the field sobriety test and remain silent. You should remember that anything you say to the officer will be used against you in court.


What Is a Field Sobriety Test

The field sobriety test was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to assist the police in determining if they should make an arrest. The Field Sobriety Test includes:

  1. Walk and turn test. This test requires the driver to take 9 steps touching heel to toe in a straight line then turn on one foot to face the opposite direction in the same manner.
  2. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. This is otherwise known as the follow my finger or pen test. The officer observes the eyes of the driver as they follow a moving object to see if there is any distinct jerking, angling or irregularity in the eye movement.
  3. One Leg Stand Test. The officer will instruct the driver to stand with one foot about 6 inches off the ground and begin counting out loud from one-thousand until told to stop.

In addition to these tests some other tests may include, heel-to-toe  test, finger-to-nose test,  saying  the  alphabet and fingers-to thumb test.


Field Tests Are Not Reliable

These field tests have proven to be statistically unreliable. Many people who are completely sober cannot pass these tests. The weather or road conditions may make it very difficult to pass these tests. If the driver is overweight, has vertigo, arthritis or some other physical condition these test may be impossible to pass.

Another major problem with Field Sobriety Tests is the officer may not be fairly recording the results or could make mistakes in the instructions that will cause the driver to fail. These tests come down to the officer’s opinion as to whether or not the driver passed.  This is to great of a risk that an unfair test will be used against you in court. Since the Field Sobriety Test isn’t mandatory you should politely refuse.

You should contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and preserve your freedom