Weight of Field Sobriety Tests in Salisbury DUI Trials
If you submit to a field sobriety test when pulled over by law enforcement, it could potentially have an impact on your case in court. Below, we discuss how much weight is given to field sobriety tests in Salisbury DUI cases and whether they are mandatory to perform.
Field Sobriety Tests in Court
Those tests could be given a great deal of weight by a judge or a jury. They can be especially damaging if there is not a lot of other evidence regarding poor driving. So, for example, if a police officer pulls over a person for speeding, and the person doesn’t really demonstrate any other factors that seem to suggest that their coordination is effected, by asking the driver to perform the field sobriety tests, that may be the only evidence of impaired coordination. So, in a scenario like that, the results of the field sobriety tests could be given a great deal of weight.
Sometimes the evidence about the field sobriety tests is not that relevant or is not given that much weight because there’s other evidence that was already presented that suggests that the driver’s coordination was impaired.
For example, if the police officer testified that the driver was slurring and couldn’t find their own license even though it was clearly visible in his own wallet, had to hold on the car door in order to get out, can’t stand without swaying, or can’t stand without holding on to the car for balance, a judge is not going to really care about the results of the field sobriety tests because the judge would’ve already heard more than enough evidence to convict the defendant of driving either under the influence or while impaired.
But in certain situations, the test results can be given a great deal of weight by a trial judge.
Refusing to Perform Field Sobriety Tests
You do not have to submit to performing those tests and you have the right to say, “No, thank you. I am not going to perform any field sobriety tests.”
Typically when that happens, the police officer is still going to arrest the defendant on the suspicion of DUI because even before asking the defendant to perform the test, he has already begun observing and looking for any clues of impairment. So, the officer will probably have gathered just enough evidence to still charge the defendant with a DUI.
Without the field sobriety tests, however, depending on what the officer observed about the defendants driving and what the officer observed in his initial contact with the driver, which might not be enough to convict the defendant at trial. This is because all that is needed to charge somebody is probable cause which is a very low burden of proof. In order to convict somebody, they have to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. A much higher standard of proof than what is needed to simply arrest or charge somebody.