The short answer to the title question is NO. You should never take a field sobriety test, even though officers likely will ask you to do so if they stop you for suspected DWI. Nothing in North Carolina law requires you to take this test.
As the American Automobile Association explains, the field sobriety test is actually three separate tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test and the one-legged stand test. Not only do the results of these tests depend on the officer’s subjective analysis of how well you performed, but your performance itself may well be negatively impacted by a variety of factors, including the following:
- How old you are
- How much you weigh
- How well you see
- Whether you have a disability that decreases your balance or ability to walk
- How well the officer instructs you
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
For this test, the officer tells you to stand still and, without moving your head, follow the object he or she saves in front of your face with your eyes only. The theory behind this test is that the extent to which your eyes jerk instead of moving smoothly indicates the extent of your inebriation.
Walk and turn test
For this test, the officer tells you to walk a straight line forward, heel to toe, for nine steps, then turn around and walk back. The theory behind this test is that if you cannot maintain your balance, this indicates inebriation.
One-legged stand test
For this test, the officer tells you to stand on one foot for 30 seconds while holding your other foot up off the ground. The theory behind this test is that if you have to put your second foot down or wave your arms in order to maintain your balance, this indicates inebriation.