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Driver refuses sobriety test, cites TV show as the reason

Citing a television program as the reason for refusing a field sobriety test may not be a winning legal strategy. A Fort Pierce, Florida man stopped by police on suspicion of drunk driving told officers he's "not taking no sobriety test. I done seen it on Mythbusters." Mythbusters is a Discovery Chanel program on which two professional stuntmen use the scientific method to prove or debunk various rumors, urban myths and the like. After asking the driver if he would like to reconsider, the driver responded with a short obscenity and "no."

The amateur sleuths have examined several alcohol-related topics on the show such as whether a stiff drink warms a person up (It does not), whether drinking makes a person more attractive (plausible but not proved), but nothing on the accuracy of field sobriety tests or blood alcohol testing machines.

Police say they stopped the driver after he rolled past a squad car with no headlights. Asked where he had been recently, the driver reported that he had "one beer" at a local chain restaurant. The officers detected a strong smell of alcohol and they say the driver stumbled as he got out of the car. When he was asked to take a field sobriety test, the driver refused, citing the alleged Mythbusters investigation. Officers took him to jail on drunk driving charges, based on his physical appearance, the alcohol smell, and his uncertain gait.

Field sobriety tests and blood alcohol measuring devices are not always 100 percent accurate and can give incorrect results if administered by a poorly trained officer. Machines like the Breathalyzer must be properly maintained the calibrated regularly, something that isn't always done. So let the Mythbusters concentrate on things they are good at, like determining if the color red makes bulls angry (No) or if eating beans causes gas (Yes). TV programs are not a good source of reliable information especially when it comes to drunk driving charges, which can have serious and long-term consequences.

Source:, "Man in Fort Pierce refuses sobriety test," Will Greenlee, Sep. 18, 2012

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013