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DUI: Field Sobriety Tests and Chemical Tests

There are a number of different sobriety tests used at a DUI stop to determine if you are indeed under the influence of alcohol. These are known as field sobriety tests. The majority of these tests depend on the officer’s subjective judgment of your performance. Chemical tests are different in that they are used to determine your blood alcohol content in an ostensibly objective manner. Learn more about field sobriety tests and chemical tests in our blog.


What are the sobriety tests used during and after a DUI stop?



Field Sobriety Tests

  • Walking in a straight line, turning around, and walking back to the officer.
  • Standing with your feet together, head tilted back, eyes closed, and moving your index finger to touch your nose.
  • In the same position but with arms at your side, counting to 30 and then opening your eyes and returning your head to a normal position.
  • Nystagmus test, where the officer looks for jerking movements in your eyes as they follow a flashlight.
  • Saying the alphabet forwards and backwards.

These are all examples of physical field sobriety tests. Your performance on the tests is based on the officer’s subjective judgment.

Do I have to take these tests?

You are not legally required to perform any of these tests. It is within your rights to refuse to take the test. It may benefit you to do so, as it is possible to fail the tests even if you are not under the influence. If you do refuse, do so politely. However, refusing will most likely result in your arrest, after which you will be taken to the police station and asked to perform a chemical test.

Chemical Tests

Chemical tests include breathalyzers and blood and urine tests. Breathalyzers can be performed in the field and at the station, while blood and urine tests can only be performed at the station. The police will most likely ask you to perform a breathalyzer test in the field when you are pulled over. This is called a pre-arrest test. You may refuse to do so. It may benefit your to do so, as the pre-arrest breathalyzer may not give the correct reading. If you refuse, you will be arrested and taken to the police station or hospital, where you will be asked to perform further chemical testing. This is called post-arrest testing.

Do I have to take these tests?

You can refuse to submit to pre and post-arrest chemical testing. Refusing to submit to post-arrest chemical testing will result in an automatic suspension of your license for 120 days in Maryland for your first refusal.

If you do submit to chemical testing and are found to have a BAC of .08 or higher, you will be charged with a DUI. A DUI lawyer in Maryland may be able to fight the charge. Contact Bruce Robinson and Associates today for consultation.


Bruce Robinson & Associates is a criminal defense law firm based in Baltimore, MD. If you have been accused of criminal actions and need to seek aggressive counsel, Robinson & Associates is here to help. For more information and to schedule your free consultation, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395 or visit us at You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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