Being pulled over for suspected driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a stressful situation. Many drivers panic when in this position for the first time. Since they have little or no knowledge of relevant laws, they may go along with whatever the law enforcement officer asks. However, some know their rights and refuse to take a field sobriety test.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement officers use three universal tests to determine whether a driver is impaired due to alcohol or drugs. Called standardized field sobriety tests, these include standing on one leg while slightly tipping the head backwards and walking in a straight line in heel-to-toe manner and turning around. The third test involves reacting to a penlight moved past the eyes.
These tests assess the coordination, balance, and cognition of the driver. If the results cause the officer to suspect that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer may make an arrest. Alternatively or in addition, the officer may require the driver to provide a breath, urine, or blood sample at the police station or the jail.
Refusing a Field Sobriety Test
Though police officers do not make this clear, drivers are not required to take field sobriety tests. A driver who refuses these tests may not be completely off the hook, though, because refusal can be used to build a DUI case. In addition, the implied consent law on the books in almost every state requires a driver suspected of DUI or DWI to submit to chemical testing at a jail or police station or lose the driver license for between three and 12 months even if the court finds the driver not guilty of DUI or DWI.
Drivers who refuse field sobriety testing may request chemical testing in order to increase accuracy of results. This test will be administered within a reasonable period after the driver is pulled over, with time frames varying by state. If the driver refuses the field test and no other tests are administered, the individual should retain a DUI attorney to help head off any DUI case that the officer may build.
Being aware of your legal rights is important particularly when being pulled over for suspected DUI or DWI. Understand that standard or other field sobriety testing is not mandatory. After refusing this testing, fill out the Free DUI Arrest Evaluation Form to learn about the next steps to preventing a DUI conviction because this legal expertise is invaluable.