434 Fayetteville St #2030
Raleigh, NC 27601

Field Sobriety Tests

When a law enforcement officer suspects a driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, it is common for the officer to request the driver exit the vehicle and administer a Roadside Sobriety Test or a Field Sobriety Test..

Generally, an officer will administer one or more of the following tests to determine whether a driver is intoxicated or under the influence:

It is a common misconception that a driver must submit to a field sobriety test. This is not true. In fact, a field sobriety test provides the prosecution with more evidence to use against a driver should DWI charges be brought. Following a field sobriety test or test refusal, it is important to contact an experienced DWI attorney immediately.

Raleigh Field Sobriety Test Lawyer

If you have been charged with DWI following a field sobriety test, contact the attorneys at the Coolidge Law Firm at (919) 239-8448 immediately. The experienced DWI defense and field sobriety test refusal attorneys are prepared to fight for the best possible results in your case.

DWI defense attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm proudly represent clients throughout the Wake County area, including Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Garner.


North Carolina Field Sobriety Test Information Center


Types of Field Sobriety Tests

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus is the most common test administered of the field sobriety testing battery. Essentially, the law enforcement officer asks the driver to follow a stimulus (i.e. a pen or finger) with his or her eyes. During this test the officer is looking for a nystagmus or involuntary twitching of the eyes. This involuntary twitching of the eyes can occur for many reasons, including alcohol impairment.

The second most common is the walk and turn. Generally, the officer will ask a driver to walk in a straight line one foot in front of the other (heel to toe) with both hands at his or her side and count the steps. At the end of the line, the driver must perform the  and walk the line again. While the driver is completing the test, the officer looks for signs of impairment, including lack of balance, incorrect counting, and inability to stay on the line.

Another test is the one leg stand. During this test, the officer requests the driver to take one leg off the ground approximately six inches with both arms at his or her side and count until the officer instructs the driver to stop. Signs of impairment include an inability to balance, count correctly, and lift leg.

The officer may also request the driver submit to a chemical or breathalyzer test. During this test the officer requests the driver blow into a portable breathalyzer machine called an Alco-Sensor. A breathalyzer machine can determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver.  A reading of 0.08 BAC or above is evidence that the driver was driving under the influence.


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Consequences of Refusing Field Sobriety Test

In the state of North Carolina a driver may refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. And in most cases, that is exactly what you should do. The SFSTs are designed to make you fail. It is true that failure to submit to these tests can be used by the prosecution to argue that the refusal to perform these tests means that you must have felt like you were too impaired to perform well on the tests. Big deal. In most cases, the tests will only make you look bad. By performing the tests, you allow the officer to testify about your behavior during the tests and the results therefrom. .

Despite having no criminal consequences unless convicted, a breathalyzer test refusal does have civil consequences, including a driver’s license suspension of one year.

Following a refusal of a field sobriety test, it is highly recommended to consult an experienced DWI/DUI attorney. An experienced attorney will adequately inform the driver of his or her options, attempt to suppress or exclude any evidence, fight for dismissal of the case, and/or provide a strong defense on the driver’s behalf.


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Coolidge Law Firm ǀ Wake County Field Sobriety Test Attorney

If you have been arrested for refusing a field sobriety test or DWI because of ultimately failing a field sobriety test, contact DWI defense attorneys at the Coolidge Law Firm at (919) 239-8448 to schedule a free attorney review of your case. The experienced attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm will fight zealously to get the best result in your case based on your unique circumstances.

The attorneys at Coolidge Law Firm defend clients throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Garner.


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David Coolidge
David A. Coolidge
is heading up our team as criminal defense attorney and graduate at the top of his class from Duke University School of Law ...
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Brent Blakesley
manages the daily operations at Coolidge Law Firm. Brent graduated from Duke University in 2008 with a BA in Computer Science, BA in Linguistics ...
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