You have probably heard of field sobriety tests before. You may have even taken one in the past. These are the tests used by police officers when they suspect someone of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The test using the breathalyzer, for example, is up to 91% accurate when determining if someone has a BAC over 0.08% (the legal limit in most states).
While these tests are beneficial for law enforcement officers, you may wonder if you have the right to refuse?
You are within your rights to refuse to take a field sobriety test. However, it is important to understand there are pros and cons to doing this.
If you are stopped by the police and suspected of intoxicated driving, the officer will attempt to convince you to take the field sobriety test. The purpose is to establish probable cause for stopping you and collect evidence of your intoxication.
Essentially, they are building a case to arrest you.
However, even if you are intoxicated and you pass the initial field sobriety test, the officer can still arrest you if they believe you are unfit to drive, or they will request you to take a breathalyzer test. Again, these are used to collect evidence against you and prove there was probable cause to pull you over.
While there are no legal requirements for you to take a field sobriety test when a police officer requests one, if you refuse to cooperate with them, it may make it appear like you are trying to hide something. Also, if you refuse the test, you will probably be arrested.
Suppose you pass the field sobriety test, and you do not register as being intoxicated with a breathalyzer test. In that case, you may still be arrested if the officer believes you pose a danger to other people. While this is true, if you pass the test, your attorney can make the case that there was no probable cause to stop you or arrest you.
Since even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgment, if you are stopped after drinking, you may be more confident in your abilities to drive and to pass the field sobriety tests than you really are.
With any level of alcohol consumption, you will experience performance issues if something requires your complete attention.
If you wind up refusing the field sobriety test requested by the officer, it is important to make sure you do not worsen the situation. Stay polite (without being over-polite), respectful, and decline the test. Ensure you do not worsen the situation or give the officer a reason to arrest you and charge you with something else.
By being calm and respectful, you can keep the situation from escalating while still exercising the right you have to refuse the test requested by the police officer who pulled you over for suspicion of drinking and driving.
Any time you are arrested, it is best to consult with an attorney regarding the actions taken by the police. You need to fully know and understand your rights before saying or doing anything that may make the situation worse for you.
The bottom line is that you can refuse a field sobriety test. While this is true, you will still likely be arrested. Your best line of defense is to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest who can help ensure your rights are protected.