Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona – Tucson DUI Lawyers
Arizona has some of the toughest driving under the influence (DUI) laws in the country. As in many states, when an officer stops a driver for suspected DUI, he or she will ask the driver to exit the car and possibly submit to a series of field sobriety tests (FST). These FSTs are to be distinguished from the chemical breath, blood, or urine tests administered by the police after a person is placed under arrest, and the refusal to submit to each of them carries different consequences.
What is Implied Consent?
Arizona is an “implied consent state” for purposes of submitting to chemical tests after an arrest for DUI. Arizona Rev. Stat. Sec. 28-1321 states that once a suspected drunk driver has been arrested, the driver cannot refuse to submit to a chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test without serious consequences for the refusal. The violator’s license or permit will be suspended or denied for twelve months, or for two years for a second or subsequent refusal within 7 years. This suspension occurs whether or not the driver is ever convicted of a DUI. Also, an officer can obtain a search warrant by phone from a judge and force the individual to take the test anyway. Resistance really is pretty much futile in this situation.
This is not the case for the FSTs which are administered while the officer is deciding whether he has reasonable grounds to arrest a driver. Once an officer pulls a driver over for erratic driving, he will be looking to see any other signs of drunkenness — bloodshot or blurred eyes or the smell of alcohol. An officer who feels the driver may have been driving drunk may then ask the individual to get out of the car and submit to one or more standard FSTs. The three FSTs approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, an eye test in which the officer looks for an involuntary jerking of the suspect’s eyes; the one-leg stand; and the walk and turn test. The last two of these tests measure coordination and the ability to follow directions. There are three more tests that are sometimes used in Arizona — the portable breath test, the finger-to-nose test, and the finger counting test. For additional information contact the affordable DUI lawyers in Tucson at Ariano & Associates for representation concerning your DUI case.
Should I Submit to Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona?
Many DUI lawyers advise against submitting to these FSTs for several reasons. There is no legal requirement in Arizona to submit to them. The officers who administer them are looking for specific signs of impairment of which the suspect is completely unaware. Usually no positive results are reported, only negative. Many researchers consider them inaccurate measures of a person’s level of impairment. Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence that a sober person would perform better on an FST than an intoxicated person, particularly when that person is anxious about having been pulled over by an officer.
However, there are good reasons why a driver may not want to refuse to submit to an FST. The fact that he refused may be used against him in court. A refusal may further raise the officer’s suspicions that an individual was driving under the influence and cause him to arrest that person.
If you have any questions about FSTs, or if you have been arrested for DUI, it is very important to consult with experienced Mesa DUI Lawyers so that you can optimize your chances of being found not guilty. Even if you submitted to an FST, those results can be challenged in court based on a variety of factors. The attorneys at the law offices of Ariano & Associates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions on the phone with no appointment necessary.