Can You Refuse Field Sobriety Tests?


As a motorist, you have probably been stopped at DUI tests, and you have probably wondered whether you can refuse the tests. Well, the straight answer is that you can, but there are other important things you should know about refusing field sobriety tests. For example, you need to know that:

You Have the Right to Refuse the Tests

The first thing you should know is that you have the legal right to refuse the field sobriety tests. This means the officers will not force you to take the field sobriety tests or arrest you for refusing the tests. Sure, they may talk or behave as if the tests are mandatory, but they won't come right out and say or force you to take the tests because they also know about your right of refusal. The only exception is if the officer has a warrant, which usually takes time to process except on "No Refusal Weekends" when officers can get such warrants over the phone from the judge.

The Tests Aren't Exactly Accurate

Another thing you should know is that field sobriety tests don't have a high rate of accuracy. In a previous National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, the tests had low accuracy rates as low as 68% for the walk and turn test and 65% for the one-leg stand percent. This means that if a hundred sober people are taken through the field sobriety tests, dozens of them may be wrongly classified as intoxicated.

The reasons for the high inaccuracies are many and include physical disabilities of test takers and training and skill of test administrators, among other things. These are some of the reasons drivers often wonder whether they can refuse field sobriety tests.

You Will Probably Be Arrested After the Refusal

You may be free to refuse field sobriety tests, but you aren't free to refuse and go. In most cases, you will be asked to undertake alternative tests to determine your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level. In fact, you will most likely be detained (held against your will) until the tests are perfumed. Unlike the field sobriety tests, implied consent laws mean you don't have the right to refuse breathalyzer or chemical tests, and doing so has serious consequences including driving license suspension.

In some cases, the authorities may view your refusal of field sobriety tests as a tacit "admission" of guilt, but this doesn't mean that you are destined for a conviction. Consult a DUI attorney, such as Winston C. Throgmorton, Attorney At Law, to help you craft the best defense possible for your case.


8 June 2018

Meeting With Legal Counsel

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