When the police make a traffic stop in Wisconsin on suspicion of drunk driving, one of the things they will often do is ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs). Unlike the breathalyzer test, in Wisconsin, unless you are a commercial driver, you are not required to submit to the FSTs. Wisconsin’s implied consent law only applies to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine – the FSTs involve a visual assessment of potential cues for alcohol impairment.
As a result, in some circumstances it may be in the driver’s best interests to refuse to submit to the field sobriety tests. If you submit to the FSTs, your performance will be used against you. On the other hand, if you refuse the FSTs you will likely be arrested, whereas “passing” the FSTs may convince the officer to let you go. When you get pulled over, you have the right to speak to an attorney, and seeking legal advice is the best way to ensure that you make an informed decision about protecting your freedom and your legal rights.
Here are some other tips drivers can follow when asked to submit to the standardized field sobriety tests:
1. Be Respectful.
Whether you refuse the FSTs, agree to submit the FSTs, or request to speak with an attorney, it is important that you do so respectfully. Remember that the police officer is just doing his or her job, and the police do a service to our community by helping to keep dangerous drunk drivers off of the roads.
2. Pay Attention.
If you decide to submit to the FSTs, pay attention to the police officer’s instructions, and try to perform the test exactly as it is described to you. Try to remember the words the officer uses, as failure to provide adequate instructions can provide a defense against using your FST results at trial. As soon as you are able, write down everything you remember about your traffic stop.
3. Tell the Officer if You Have a Medical Condition.
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and orthopedic injuries, can make it difficult to perform well on the standardized field sobriety tests. If you have a medical condition, you should tell the police officer before you take the FSTs. If the officer is skilled at interpreting FST performance, he or she should be able to tell whether your “failure” is a result of alcohol impairment or other some other factor.
4. Remember that the FSTs are Subjective.
Finally, if you submit to the FSTs and get arrested, it is important to remember that an arrest does not automatically mean a conviction. The standardized FSTs are highly subjective; and, in addition to challenging the arresting officer’s interpretation of your FST performance, you could potentially have several other defenses available.
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
Speak with an OWI Attorney in Wausau, WI
If you have been stopped or arrested on suspicion of OWI, the criminal defense attorneys at Crooks, Low & Connell, S.C. can help. For a confidential consultation, please call (715) 842-2291 or contact us online now.