This is the second of our 3-part series that takes a look at the reality of being pulled over for suspicion of DUI, what rights you have in this situation and the details of each standard field sobriety tests (SFST).
In no way does RGP condone drinking and driving.
Part Two: Know Your Rights
On the side of the road during a traffic stop, you are considered “detained”. You are not free to go, but you are not “in custody”, so the first thing to keep in mind is your Miranda rights. Because you are not in custody, the officer does not have to read you your rights before asking very incriminating questions. Questions like “have you been drinking?”, “how much?”, “do you feel the effects of the alcohol?” etc. are all questions designed to gather evidence which may be incriminating, so answering them can absolutely hurt you. Even though they have not advised you of your rights, you can still exercise your Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. You can decline to answer questions and ask to speak to your attorney. You are required to provide your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, but any additional questions that may incriminate you, like those already mentioned, you can decline to answer.
In addition to asking you questions about drinking, the officer(s) will most likely ask you to take a field sobriety test. Those too are voluntary, but the officer will probably not tell you that.
In Texas, refusing to perform the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) DOES NOT have a legal consequence. In contrast, refusing to submit to a breath test or to a blood test (after being taken into custody) will result in your license being suspended by way of an administrative hearing called an Administrative License Revocation Hearing, or ALR. Refusing to do the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs — the HGN, one leg stand, or walk and turn) does not carry such a consequence.)
Part Three will take a detailed look at the 3 Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
And again, in no way does RGP condone drinking and driving.
Don’t drink and drive.