Understanding your rights during a field sobriety test

Being asked by a police officer to take a field sobriety test is an experience that no Tennessee driver wants. It’s important that you understand your rights before finding yourself in that situation because they won’t always be clearly explained by the officer.

Field sobriety tests, or FSTs, may often be discredited in court. The fact that they’re not scientifically based, the many variables involved with an officer’s administration of the test, and individuals’ physical conditions that may prevent them from taking the test all contribute to flaws in the test that are used to discredit such evidence in criminal law.

There are only three standardized FSTs – but many more are in use by officers every day. Oftentimes, the evidence is discredited if an officer employed anything other than these three tests:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • One-Leg Turn
  • Walk and Turn

Officers don’t have to tell you your rights

Under Tennessee law, you are not required to agree to the FST, when an officer requests it. If you choose to refuse the test, there’s also no risk of being penalized legally for it.

This is crucial information that helps many drivers avoid needlessly incriminating themselves in high-stakes encounters with police. But most people aren’t privy to this legal option to refuse an FST, which police officers work to their advantage: An investigating officer has no obligation to let you know that you can refuse the test.

Although it’s never a good situation, being asked to take an FST by a police officer doesn’t have to mean legal catastrophe. Make sure to learn your rights before it happens to you, particularly your right to refuse the test altogether. Field sobriety tests have proven time and time again to be unreliable, and there’s no reason you should be forced to take one.

Costner & Greene Attorneys at Law

315 High Street
Maryville, TN 37804

Toll-Free: 877-381-6564

When you need legal help, we are here for you.