Did you know that in Pennsylvania, you do not have to submit to any type of field sobriety test? Unfortunately, these sobriety tests are set up for you to fail, having been proven to often be inaccurate.
In fact, various independent studies have shown, on average, that even one-third of sober people “fail” these tests. This happens for several reasons:
- The officers administer the field sobriety tests incorrectly.
- A pre-existing condition, such as poor balance skills, impacts the results.
- Officers typically administer these tests in high-stress situations where they should not expect to remember each instruction.
These tests are highly unreliable and more likely to result in your arrest than your release from custody. However, there is an implied consent law in Pennsylvania. This means refusing to take a field sobriety test can result in penalties such as license revocation.
If you are charged with a DUI/DWI in Scranton or the surrounding areas of Northeast Pennsylvania, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can provide solid field sobriety test defense by effectively challenging the examination results. At Kalinoski Law Offices P.C., criminal defense attorney Craig P. Kalinoski represents people facing impaired driving charges. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you during a free initial consultation.
Different Field Sobriety Tests – None Are Reliable or Mandatory in Pennsylvania
The following are some of the field sobriety tests that law enforcement officers often administer during traffic stops for suspicion of drunk driving:
- The walk-and-turn (WAT): The driver is instructed to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, then turn on one foot and return to the starting point in the same manner.
- The one-legged stand: The subject must stand with one foot six inches off the ground while counting aloud until instructed to stop by the officer after 30 seconds.
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) or “pen test”: Not admissible in Pennsylvania courts; this test monitors if your eyes can follow the officer’s finger/pencil as he/she/they move it about six inches in front of your nose.
- Reverse alphabet test: Not admissible in Pennsylvania courts; this test asks you to recite the alphabet backward.
- Finger-to-nose test: Not admissible in Pennsylvania courts; you hop on one foot or touch your finger to your nose with your eyes closed.
Since these tests are not mandatory—some being inadmissible in court—you may wonder why officers use them at DUI test points. The reality is, police will use these tests to provide “probable cause” for your DUI arrest. Without probable cause, they cannot move forward with the DUI.
Why Are You Being Pulled Over?
Granted, these are not the only cues for drunk driving. If your car is swerving, an officer may pull you over. From there, if you are behaving in a crude manner–slurring your speech, etc.–can be enough to submit to a blood alcohol reading in some cases. Remember, there is no universal sign of intoxication, which is why officers will utilize the tests to determine probable cause.
When law enforcement concludes you performed poorly and have failed any of these tests, and exhibit signs of intoxication, they can then ask you to submit to a portable breath test (PBT). If you agree to the test, and the result is a BAC of .08% or higher, you have provided reasonable suspicion for the police to take you into custody. If an officer arrests you for DUI/DWI, the law requires that you give an official blood test, breath, or urine sample. If you refuse, you may be subject to a one-year license suspension penalty.
Our criminal defense lawyer knows how to successfully challenge field sobriety test results and provide thorough breath test defense representation. This can lead to a reduction in the charges and even dismissal. Our goal is to minimize all the consequences you are facing. We do this by providing an aggressive defense that challenges the technical components leading to the charges.
Speak With a Knowledgeable Wilkes-Barre DUI Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been arrested in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, or the surrounding region, don’t wait for a court date. Furthermore, don’t believe that failing field sobriety tests automatically means you are guilty. Discuss your case with Kalinoski Law Offices during a free initial consultation by calling 570-207-4000 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.