Roadside DUI tests are voluntary in Washington State and most folks under investigation are better off refusing them. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) can be difficult to perform correctly under perfect environmental conditions. They’re even harder to pass when you’re nervous after being pulled over on a dark roadside that’s sloped for drainage with high speed traffic whizzing by.
The main three FST’s include a test of your eyes, walking heel to toe in a straight line and balancing on one leg. They are designed to measure one’s ability to perfectly remember multiple complex instructions and execute unnatural and unbalanced body movements.
Law enforcement often refer to these tests as voluntary. In police camera footage showing Spokane DUI arrests we often hear officers say, “Would you like to do some voluntary field sobriety tests so I can make sure you’re ok to drive?” Unfortunately, the fact that these tests are voluntary often gets lost in the pressure of the moment. This wording implies the driver must prove they’re “ok to drive” by performing the tests in order to avoid arrest.
Additionally, there is some confusion in the general public about what happens if you refuse FST’s. Some folks mistakenly think you cannot be arrested for DUI if you refuse to perform FST’s. However, there are plenty of cases that have resulted in an arrest after refusing FST’s. Once law enforcement observes signs of alcohol or drug impairment, like slurred speech and poor dexterity, they have broad discretion to make a DUI arrest even without FST’s.
If you or someone you care about have been accused of an alcohol or drug DUI, regardless of whether FST’s were attempted then contact Cooney Law Offices today. We can help!