Even those who have never been stopped or in a car that was stopped for a sobriety check probably have some idea of what field sobriety tests are.
Basically, a law enforcement officer who suspects she has encountered a drunk driving will give a series of tests, usually involving balance and coordination, that supposedly indicated whether or not someone is intoxicated. These tests include asking a suspect to walk in a straight line, stand on one leg while doing some other activity and tracking a lot with one's eyes.
Unlike a certified breath test, a person can decline to take any or all of these tests. When deciding whether or not to do so, it is important to remember that the reason the officer is giving the tests in the first place is to support the filing of DUI charges down the road.
They are not, in other words, designed to be a friendly means of letting a suspect get out of a drunk driving arrest, and they may even breathe life in to a prosecution that otherwise would have gone nowhere.
On the other hand, as this blog has discussed before, a person may not refuse to take a certified breath or blood test if the officer asks for one. A person who breaks this rule may face consequences above and beyond a DUI. On a related point, an officer does not have to give field sobriety tests, a portable alcohol test, or the like before asking for a certified breath or blood test or even before formally arresting a person for DUI.
As much as possible, a person should think carefully about whether to take field sobriety tests when asked. The results of any field sobriety tests that were taken can and should be discussed with one's Prescott Valley, Arizona, defense attorney.