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The sobering facts regarding field sobriety tests

Let's say you're driving along a Tennessee road after a lovely evening out. You're recalling the many memorable moments the night held and feeling grateful for good friends, good food and fun times. All of the sudden, you see flashing red and blue lights in your rear-view mirror and hear the sound most motorists dread — a police siren.

It takes less than a second for you to realize you're getting pulled over in a traffic stop, although you're not sure why because you were focused, alert and being as cautious as possible while driving, as usual. The next thing you know, the officer asks you to step out of your vehicle.

That's a definite game-changer!

Once an officer of the law requests that you exit your vehicle, you are detained. Depending on how the next few moments unfold, your wonderful night on the town may quickly deteriorate into one of the worst nights of your life. Many times, the next request an officer makes has to do with field sobriety tests. Keeping the following in mind in such situations may help you mitigate the circumstances:

  • A Standardized Field Sobriety Test is not a single test; it is a group of tests.
  • In most states, results from these tests are admissible as evidence in court.
  • Official estimates say trained officers are able to correctly identify drunk drivers at least 90 percent of the time using SFSTs.
  • Other things, such as certain medication or eye conditions may cause you to "fail" a SFST, at which point the officer may charge you with drunk driving, even if you did not consume alcohol.
  • You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests in Tennessee, and there is no legal penalty for refusal.

Generally speaking, a law enforcement officer does not have to inform you that you are legally permitted to refuse a request for a SFST. This is one of many reasons it's important to know your rights when you drive in this or any other state. (State laws vary; so, it's best to seek clarification any time you drive in a new state.)

If you wind up facing drunk driving charges, you'll have your work cut out for you to try to avoid conviction. Acting alongside experienced legal representation is usually the best means for increasing your chances of obtaining a positive outcome in court.

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