Field Sobriety Statements

     The Massachusetts Appeals Court decided a case in 2013 (Commonwealth v. Brown) that dealt with the issue of whether statements made by a defendant while performing field sobriety tests are admissible at trial. A all defense lawyers know, the results of field sobriety tests are a common tool used by the police to prove that an indivdual is impaired in drunk driving cases. The Appeals Court reaffirmed that an individual’s refusal to take the field sobriety tests is not admissible because it is “compelled testimony.” In this case the individual, after being stopped, agreed to take the field sobriety tests. When he had difficulty performing them correctly he said “I can’t do this.” The defendant argued that the statement should not be allowed into evidence, but the Appeals Court ruled that once an individual consents to take the tests any statements he/she makes regarding their inability to perform the tests are admissible. In this case the defendant was found guilty.