What You Need To Know About Field Sobriety Tests

Here is what every Illinois driver should know if they get pulled over and asked to take a field sobriety test.

Every driver hates that sinking feeling that comes when you see a police officer behind you with flashing lights indicating you need to pull over. You’ve been out with friends having a good time and the last thing you want is the headache of a DUI. How should you handle this situation so you can avoid being put in a tight spot? Scott wants you to understand what is involved when you get pulled over in Illinois and how to handle field sobriety tests.


If an officer pulls over a driver and suspects alcohol consumption they may request a field sobriety test. These tests are designed to gather evidence of impairment and give the officer probable cause to place the driver under arrest for a DUI. 

Here’s what you can expect if you are asked to take a field sobriety test. First a police officer may ask to observe your eyes. This is a HGN test, which is designed to test and track eye movements. Secondly, you may be asked to walk a straight line, turn around and walk back. Lastly, the third test is a one leg stand. If you fail these tests, or fail to comply with these tests, the officer can request that you take chemical tests. 


If a police officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test you do not have an obligation under Illinois law to take the test. However, refusing to take the test does not get you off. You may be arrested for suspicion of driving while under the influence regardless if you take a field sobriety test or not. If you choose to take the test you are most certainly giving law enforcement extra evidence to use against you in a court of law. Other signs of impairment like erratic driving, balance issues, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes may also be enough cause for arrest. A good DUI defense attorney may have a better chance of challenging an arrest and a DUI charge at trial, if you refuse to take a field sobriety test.


Field sobriety tests administered when you have been pulled over are not the only tests an officer can ask of you. You may also be asked to take a preliminary breath test, or breathalyzer. If your situation gets to this point it is important to note that Illinois is an implied consent state. This means that if you drive on Illinois roads you consent to have your blood alcohol level tested if you are suspected of drinking and driving.

If you get pulled over and are asked to blow (take a breathalyzer test) and you refuse, the implied consent law is broke and you risk a one year suspension on your driver’s license if you are a first time offender. If you agree to the breathalyzer test, and results are more than the Illinois legal limit of .08, you risk a six month suspension of your driver’s license if it is your first offense. This discrepancy is important to know now before you’re put in a tight spot, since six months can make a big difference to you and your loved ones. 


Field sobriety tests often feel tricky to drivers and there is a good reason why. These tests are more likely to incriminate you then exonerate you.  Drivers who agree to take a field sobriety test may pass and expect to be sent on their way. This is not always the case. The police officer may still be able to charge you with drunk driving based on their observations. 


The problem with field sobriety tests is that they are highly subjective. What if the police officer is in a bad mood on the evening he pulls you over? What if you have balance issues or poor coordination? Even the amount of traffic on the road and your anxiety can affect your performance during a field sobriety test.  

If you have been charged with a DUI you need an experienced defense attorney. Contact McClintock Law as soon as possible. Scott has been helping people just like you get out of their tight spots. Scott knows that DUIs cause embarrassment, anxiety or fear for your future and he is very good at obtaining positive results. 

McClintock Law is conveniently located in Monmouth and provides criminal defense services to clients in Knox, Warren, McDonough, Henderson, Mercer and surrounding counties.

To schedule a free consultation call our firm at (309) 715-7181 or contact us online at www.scottmcclintocklaw.com to learn how Scott can help.

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