One of the major DUI investigation tools that police use are the standardized field sobriety tests. Most citizens accused of driving while intoxicated think that if they pass these tests they will not be arrested for DUI. Little do they know they can still be arrested, prosecuted, and face trial even if they pass the field sobriety tests. Who made that silly rule? Why the Tennessee Supreme Court, of course.

The question was recently asked of the Tennessee Supreme Court whether there was sufficient probable cause to arrest a citizen of DUI if they passed the field sobriety tests. In State of Tennessee v. Bell , the Court held other factors such as driving, smell of alcohol, and admissions of drinking are sufficient to create probable cause to arrest a citizen for DUI. The Court further opined that "even if Mr. Bell correctly performed the field sobriety tests, we decline to conclude that his performance sufficiently undermines the aforementioned circumstances so as to defeat a finding of probable cause for DUI."

What does this ruling mean to a citizen accused of drunk driving?

  • Never under any circumstances perform the field sobriety tests.
  • Refusal to perform the tests cannot be held against you.
  • Passing the field sobriety tests mean nothing. You will, more times than not, still be charged with a DUI.

Los Angeles DUI attorney, Lawrence Taylor, has often spoke on the DUI exception to the Constitution. The Bell case is just another example.