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The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
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IL defense lawyerLike every other state, in Illinois, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content higher than 0.08 percent. Those found guilty of doing so will be charged with driving under the influence, or DUI. There are a few steps law enforcement take before making an arrest, though. One of those is to administer field sobriety tests. Many individuals, whether they have been charged with a DUI, or they think they are about to be, wonder if these tests are mandatory. So, can you refuse field sobriety tests in Rolling Meadows?

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are one tool used by law enforcement when they suspect someone is driving under the influence. While there are many field sobriety tests a police officer may ask the driver to undergo, there are generally three main ones.

The Horizontal Nystagmus Test (HGN) will involve the officer holding up an object. They will then ask the driver to follow that object with their eyes as the officer moves it from left to right. The officer will then look for when the pupil begins to exhibit ‘nystagmus’, or an involuntary jerking of the eye.


The so-called “Walk and Turn Test” is a common field sobriety test that Chicago law enforcement officers routinely use to detect whether a suspected drunk driver is intoxicated. This is a standardized test that the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration has approved for such use. Depending on the results of the test, a driver could be charged with a DUI.

The first part of the walk and turn test requires the driver to stand heel-to-toe while listening to instructions from the officer regarding the rest of the test. The driver must balance in an awkward position while still listening to detailed instructions. Next, the driver must take nine steps forward on a real or imaginary line, and then nine steps back to the original position. The driver must take the steps heel-to-toe, and then turn by pivoting on one foot. Additionally, the driver must keep his or her hands at his or her side and count the steps out loud.

This sobriety test gives police officers certain clues showing whether someone is driving drunk. If a driver cannot keep his or her balance while listening to the instructions, stops or cannot keep his or her balance while walking, starts walking before the instructions are finished, or takes the incorrect number of steps, the officer will assign one point to each action taken by the driver during the test. Likewise, if the driver cannot walk heel-to-toe, uses his or her arms for balance, steps off the line, or simply cannot do the test, the officer can assign a point to the driver. If officer who pulled the driver over for suspected drunk driving assigns the driver two or more points to the driver as a result of his test performance, then the driver has failed the test and will likely be arrested on DUI charges.

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