When you are pulled over in Oregon on suspicion of DUI, the police will request that you perform a series of “field sobriety tests.” Their goal in asking you to do these “FST’s” is to determine if they have probable cause to make an arrest, and also to document any incriminating behavior that will strengthen the prosecution’s case.
Oftentimes, the officer will ask you to do these tests in a tone and manner that feels like you have little choice in the matter, so you may not be aware that these tests are actually voluntary.
Under Oregon law, you cannot be forced to take a FST, and you are free to refuse to submit to one when asked. Whether or not you should refuse, however, depends on the circumstances.
FST’s are comprised of three different tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus (or HGN), the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand.
During all three of these tests, the officer will also be noting how well you can follow directions and your general disposition. If you are not cooperative or do not follow instructions, the officer will note that in his police report. The results of these tests will be included in the police report and will be used against you as evidence in court. Regardless of how well you think you will perform on these tests, keep in mind that these tests are highly subjective, and the success of your performance on them is left to the discretion of a police officer who already believes you are intoxicated and is looking for any evidence to support his suspicion. Clearly, there is an inherent bias in roadside tests that works against you.
In most instances, the field sobriety tests only provide the State with additional evidence against a defendant at trial. Just about any performance you give on these tests can be used as evidence against you.
Are you facing DUI charges and have questions about your arrest? Contact Oregon Criminal Defense attorney Casey Kovacic for DUI defense help in Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, Gresham, and throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas County. Experienced in DUI defense, Mr. Kovacic will work hard to defend your rights in court.
Casey Kovacic is a criminal defense lawyer practicing in the greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. He handles every type of Oregon state criminal case. From DUI's and other misdemeanors to homicide charges, he brings an unwavering commitment to pursuing a fair and just outcome for every client he defends.