Field Sobriety Test in a Missouri DUI Case
There are some basic things to understand about field sobriety tests in Missouri. First, a field sobriety test is different than a breathalyzer test. When I say field sobriety test, I am referring to the "walk and turn", the "horizontal gaze nystagmus", the "one leg stand", etc. After speaking with a number of my clients who were shocked at what I told them, I felt compelled to emphasize the two most important reasons field sobriety tests should be avoided.
1. You are Not Required to Take the Test
First of all you do not have to. There is no penalty for refusing a field sobriety test in Missouri. Since there is really no benefit to your DUI case if you do take the test, there is no reason to do it.
2. Almost Nobody Passes the Test
It has been my experience in defending DWI cases over the years that almost no one passes theses tests (sober or not) because either the officer did not want them to pass the test, the test was not done correctly by the officer or the person had some sort of injury or disability which made the test impossible for them to pass.
The field sobriety tests are used to give the officer a reason to make an arrest for DWI and if people would refuse them, there would be less or even no grounds for the DWI arrest. Now some of my clients will tell me that the officer said he or she smelt like alcohol so they would have been arrested anyway. Well that is not necessarily true. Smelling like alcohol is not a crime and does not by itself give the officer any indication that the person is impaired. In fact, drinking beer and other lower alcoholic consentration beverages often give off a stronger smell than if you were to drink straight vodka.
For the officer to make an arrest for DWI he or she needs to believe that you are impaired, not that you have consumed an alcoholic drink. If you are charged with a DWI in Missouri or for more information about DWI laws in Missouri, talk to a local DUI defense attorney.