When you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, it is likely that a police officer will ask you to commit to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). Under Colorado law, you are not required to perform a SFST, and you should politely decline.
What is a Standardized Field Sobriety Test?
A Standardized Field Sobriety Test is made up of three tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn (WAT) and One Leg Stand (OLS). The HGN tests the eyes’ ability to smoothly track a moving object (think of the movement of an ink pen or flashlight). When this test is used, the officer looks for the eyes’ inability to follow a moving object smoothly and any jerking. Both the WAT and OLS test the suspect’s ability to balance and divide attention. With the WAT test, the officer will assess the suspects ability to remain balanced while on one foot, if the suspect can touch heel-to-toe, steps off of a line, uses his or her arms to balance, makes an improper turn or incorrect number of steps. For the OLS test, the officer will have the suspect stand on one leg, with the opposite foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands for 30 seconds. The officer asses the suspect for swaying while balancing, using his or her arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance or putting the raised foot down.
Why should you decline a SFST?
Anything you say or do can and will be against you! One misstep on a field sobriety test can be used against you in a court of law to prosecute you for a DUI. These tests can be physically difficult even if you are not under the influence and have to be administered perfectly to ensure accuracy. These tests do not take into account any medical conditions that may inhibit your ability to complete them accurately, roadside conditions that may make it difficult, or any other reasons for poor performance that are not related to intoxication. Don’t help the officers make a case against you!
Will you lose your license if you decline a SFST?
Officers often tell suspects that they will automatically lose their license for one year if they refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. This is not entirely true. Under Colorado law, you do have the right to decline a field sobriety test, but not a chemical test. A chemical test is a blood or breath test. You cannot decline these.
How do you decline a SFST?
First, you should be polite and courteous to the officer. Then, clearly state that you prefer to not complete a field sobriety test. Oftentimes, the officer will also offer a breath test along with the field sobriety test. Be sure that you clearly state you are only declining the field sobriety test since the refusal of chemical testing is an automatic loss of your license for one year.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in Colorado
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is crucial that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. At The Moorhead Law Group we have successfully defended countless clients against DUI charges and would be happy to meet with you and review your case. Contact us today at 303-447-1400.