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Continuing from the previous post on your rights during a DWI stop and investigation, in which you may be suspected of driving while impaired or other alcohol-related driving offenses.

Rule #2: You do not have to participate in any field sobriety tests, and you almost certainly should not. Many people mistakenly believe that they have no choice but to submit to a field sobriety test, once an officer makes the request.  But in fact, those tests, known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (walking a straight line, standing on one foot and counting, following a pen or light with your eyes — this last being known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test), are all voluntary.  They are yet another tool that the police use to persuade you to help them produce evidence against you.  Instead of participating, you are fully within your rights to simply decline.  “I’d prefer not to” is a perfectly acceptable response.  Even if you think you can perform the tests impeccably, chances are the officer will find something he or she believes to be imperfect about your performance, and will try to twist something about your performance into evidence of impairment.

More to come on your rights during a DWI traffic stop.

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Ben is an experienced trial lawyer who earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was trained in trial practice at the nation’s preeminent Public Defender agency, the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, described by United States Attorney General Eric Holder as “the best public defender office in the country.”

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