DUI Field Sobriety Tests in Knoxville TN

Did you know that the Tennessee Supreme Court says that even if you pass the field sobriety tests, you can still be arrested and taken to jail? So why would anyone ever agree to do these difficult tests? In many cases, once the officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests the decision to arrest you for DUI has already been made. In those cases, performance of the tests is only being offered to build evidence against you that can be used in court. There is no legal requirement to do DUI field sobriety tests and its my opinion that you should never agree to perform these roadside gymnastics!There are several reasons for that opinion, but it was cemented by a recent Tennessee Supreme Court decision called Bell. Without going into the complexities involved, the Court basically said that even if you pass the roadside sobriety tests, the officer can legally arrest you anyway!. If even a passing performance earns you a trip to jail, there is little upside to doing these difficult tests.

The Standardized Field Sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus tests (the “eye test”), The Walk and Turn Test (the “walk a straight line test”) and the One Leg Stand test (that one is self explanatory. If you are or have been pulled over and suspected of DUI, it is very likely these tests were offered to you.

For DUI defense lawyers there is a lot to like about these tests, even though they are considered tools the State uses to convict. Several years ago I took the 40 hour NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Course that all certified police officers take. How better to learn to defend DUI than by learning exactly what the cops learn, and more, I thought? That course was eye opening. Did you know that even NHTSA, the government agency who came administers the field sobriety test training, says each test is only between 65 and to 77 percent accurate? That means that as many as 35% of people who fail the tests (and therefore go to jail) may not be impaired! The course also included a wet lab, with participants who had been drinking or not, who each student had to administer the tests on. The same drinking participants were assigned a widely varying number of “clues” on the field sobriety tests. Some student let the drinkers go, while other arrested.

Contact Barnes Law Firm in Knoxville at 865-805-5703 if you have questions about your DUI arrest or the Field Sobriety Test.

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