Why Was I Still Arrested If I Passed All Of The Field Sobriety Tests?
- Even if you pass field sobriety tests, you may still be arrested if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while impaired or intoxicated.
This is always an interesting question. The answer is that you can still be arrested based on the officer’s discretion. Again, the law says the officer needs probable cause to arrest you, but that probable cause for him is to believe that you were driving drunk.
The law doesn’t say that it’s illegal to fail field sobriety tests. The law says it’s illegal to drive while you’re impaired or under the influence of alcohol. Field sobriety tests are designed by the National Traffic Safety Board to test whether your driving is being impacted by alcohol. The crime is not failing the One-Legged Stand, failing the Walk and Turn, or failing the HGN; the crime is driving drunk or while impaired. These tests are simply tools that allow the police officer to determine whether or not you are driving under the influence or while impaired.
So if you passed the field sobriety tests, the officer can still arrest you if in his judgment he believes you’re driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. This is true even blew below 0.08 on the PBT. This happens most often with the HGN. The HGN is a test that does not show up well on either squad car cameras or body cameras by the police officer, because the camera doesn’t show the person’s eyes and the way that the person’s eyes are reacting, so the viewer of those videos cannot see when Nystagmus sets in.
For that reason, the officer will typically say something like, “The eyes indicated Nystagmus at a point which supports the idea that the person was either intoxicated or impaired. So, even though the person did fine on the One-Legged Stand, and even though the person did fine on the Walk and Turn, and the video shows them doing well on those two, the HGN gave me all the information I needed to arrest them”.
And because the HGN test is easier for police officers to fudge, it’s the one that they will typically rely upon to support an arrest where you did pass on the two other field sobriety tests—i.e., the Walk and Turn and the One-Legged Stand.
For more information on OWI Law in Michigan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 509-0056 today.