The Tennessee Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal in a DUI case. The issue involves the Field Sobriety Tests. David Bell was stopped and he agreed to do some field sobriety tests to see if he was driving under the influence of alcohol. Mr.Bell passed all 6 tests. Police were still not satisfied and arrested him for DUI and made him submit to a blood test which came back over the legal limit of .08.Later the trial court threw out the arrest because he passed the field sobriety tests which was upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals. I expect the Court to reverse the prior rulings.
First , the Court is eroding all citizen protections on search and seizure issues. While this case is not a true search and seizure issue under the Fourth Amendment , it does hold that the police should have some evidence in order to arrest someone. My guess is the Court will rule the bad driving and the smell of alcohol is enough to arrest. However , the question is the validity of the standardized field sobriety tests. Once one reads the studies , it does not determine if someone can operate a car safely of determine impaired driving, it only gives an officer some data if their blood test is over .08 BAC. Even then , the field sobriety tests have a huge margin of error.
So what should a citizen do if asked to do field sobriety tests ? Refuse them all. Your stopped for suspicion of DUI. Why give the police any evidence ? Field sobriety tests are voluntary. Exercise your rights. Stay tuned for the Court’s ruling.