DUI Arrests: Field Sobriety Tests Assist Law Enforcement in Determining if Probable Cause Exists
Interviewer: What is the purpose of the field sobriety tests?
Steve Tomeo: At least in Connecticut, the field sobriety tests are a standardized method of determining or at least assisting in the determination of whether or not there is a probable cause to arrest the person for operating motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
The Police Are Not Mandated to Administer the Field Sobriety Tests; but Will Ask the Driver to Perform the Tests in Almost Every DUI Investigation
Interviewer: At what point is it administered? Is it always going to happen or is it optional?
Steve Tomeo: I would say that in Connecticut it is not mandatory for a police officer to give the tests. But almost in every case where a police officer suspects a person of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, these tests are given.
Interviewer: You said it wasn’t mandatory all the time for police officers to administer these tests. Is it mandatory for the driver to take these tests?
Drivers Are Not Legally Obligated to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests
Steve Tomeo: In the area of criminal law it is not mandatory for an individual suspected of committing a crime to do anything. In other words, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States enables the person to do nothing. He doesn’t have to do anything that would incriminate him. By that I mean he can refuse to answer any questions or do any great number of things because he feels that it would incriminate him.
The Field Sobriety Tests Are Standardized, Meaning They Have the Same Instructions and Should Be Performed the Same Way
Interviewer: In your opinion, do you think with cases that involve field sobriety tests, does the driver usually pass these test or do they usually fail these tests?
Steve Tomeo: I’m not sure how to characterize passing the test or failing the test. In my opinion these tests are such that if you do everything correctly, you’re at zero. If you do not do something correctly, you’re in a negative position. The tests appear to be a negative type test. The law enforcement community and the prosecutors, as a general rule, do not use the word such as you passed the test or you failed the test. They say you did not perform the tests to the standard. By their own terminology, the tests are supposed to be standardized. The directions given are supposed to be standardized and the testing itself is supposed to be standardized.
It is Likely That Most Drivers That Perform the Tests Do Not Perform Them to the Standard
Interviewer: Do you see that a lot of people are usually put in more of a negative position then?
Steve Tomeo: In my experience with the people that I have represented, the vast majority of the people according to the police had not performed the tests to standard. There are three tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.