Top DUI Attorney in Chicago Discusses Gender in Field Sobriety Test Guidelines
Interviewer: Are there any differences in between the way the tests are conducted between men and women? Do they give them different tests or the same thing?
Fred Dry: They give them the same tests, but what if a woman is wearing 2 inch heels? Just because you might be accustomed to wearing high heels doesn’t mean your ability to perform the test will be normal when you’re wearing high heels. Field sobriety test guidelines state that anyone wearing high heels is to be given the opportunity to take the tests without shoes.
The Field Sobriety Test Guidelines for Drug Related DUI Cases
Interviewer: What about testing for drug related DUI’s?
Fred Dry: Illinois field sobriety test guidelines state that police officers should give them the same Field Sobriety Tests. The impairment tends to show itself in the same way and sometimes its incoherence, sometimes its impaired speech, sometimes physical staggering, stumbling, falling down. Driving is a physical and mental activity and if your mental processes are impaired, it doesn’t matter how your physical processes are. You’re not capable of operating a car safely and that’s the criteria. But when it comes to illegal drugs, just having that in your blood is a violation of the DUI law.
Police Officers Look For an Admission of Guilt or Incriminating Statements from the Motorist
Interviewer: Do police officers ever take advantage if anybody would admit that they have been drinking or say something like, “Oh, I couldn’t even do this while I am sober”?
Fred Dry: Absolutely. In accordance to standard field sobriety test guidelines, police officers will always ask the person if they have been drinking and they will always inform the court when a person does admit they have been drinking. But in my mind, it doesn’t really add that much to the equation. If the police officer detects what he thinks is the smell of alcohol, he is going to conclude that the person was drinking. As with most people, the judge would think that, I would think that, you would think that. First thing everyone would think is that if you smell of alcohol, you probably had something to drink. But the fact that the person then says, “Oh yeah, I had a couple of beers”, what does that really add to the equation? It doesn’t really tell you anything other than that they told the truth. Telling the officer “I couldn’t do this if I was sober” is an admission of intoxication.
It is Advisable to be Courteous Towards the Police Officers when Refusing the Field Sobriety Tests
It is definitely advisable. You will need to, at least, identify yourself and provide auto insurance information.
It would be best if you could avoid talking to the police at all. But that is not realistic, so talk as little as possible. They don’t have to warn you of your rights to remain silent until after you have been arrested. So anything you say before that time is just free for them. If people don’t want to take these tests, they should be courteous to the police officer as always through the entire thing. But when the police officer says I’d like you to take the field sobriety tests, you just say “Officer, I don’t think I want to do that”. You shouldn’t say that I am not able to do that because they will interpret that as you’re saying “I am drunk, I can’t do it”.
It is Easier to Explain A Refusal in Court Rather than Having to Justify Poor Performance in a Field Sobriety Test
Just say that you have to talk to your lawyer. “My lawyer suggested that I should not take the test” and the same thing with the portable breath test, obviously in a courteous and respectful manner. There really isn’t any reason to use harsh or foul language with the police officer, just treat them with dignity and respect and you’ll get that back even if you might get arrested. Even if you are not treated in a dignified manner, don’t take those tests. Field sobriety tests or the portable breath test can do nothing but hurt you. It’s easier to explain why you didn’t take it as opposed to having to explain a bad test result.