What Happens if You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?

Key Takeaways

  1. Field Sobriety Tests Are Optional: Unlike chemical tests, you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests without direct legal penalties under implied consent laws.
  2. Consequences of Refusal: While legally optional, refusing a field sobriety test can influence an officer’s decision to arrest and may be noted in court proceedings.
  3. Importance of Legal Advice: Given the complexities of DUI stops, consulting with a DUI attorney for guidance on your rights and the implications of refusing a test is crucial.

When you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you might be asked to perform a field sobriety test. This situation raises an important question: What are the consequences if you refuse to take a field sobriety test? Understanding the implications of such a refusal is crucial for any driver.

Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities

If you have a disability that could impact your ability to perform a field sobriety test, it’s essential to understand how this might affect your interaction with law enforcement during a DUI stop. Here are some important points:

  • Communicate Clearly: If possible, inform the officer about your disability at the beginning of the stop. Clear communication can help the officer understand your situation and possibly adjust their assessment methods.
  • Alternative Testing Methods: Officers might use alternative sobriety tests better suited to your circumstances. Be aware that you still have the option to refuse these tests.
  • Legal Protections: Disabilities are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you believe your disability was not adequately considered during a DUI stop, this could be an important part of your legal defense.

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.

The Option to Refuse

Unlike chemical tests (breath, blood, urine), which are subject to implied consent laws, field sobriety tests are generally optional. This means you can lawfully refuse to take these tests without the direct legal penalties that come with refusing a chemical test.

Potential Consequences of Refusal

While you may refuse a field sobriety test without the same penalties as refusing a breathalyzer, there are still potential consequences:

  • Officer’s Discretion: Your refusal can be a factor in the officer’s decision to arrest you for suspicion of DUI.
  • Court Considerations: Although not direct evidence of guilt, refusal to take a field sobriety test might be mentioned in court proceedings and could potentially influence the case.

Knowing Your Rights

It’s important to know your rights in a DUI stop. Understanding the difference between field sobriety tests and chemical tests, and the implications of refusing either, is key.

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 rights attorney to help head off any DUI case that the officer may build.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you’re facing a situation involving a field sobriety test, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel. An attorney can provide guidance on your rights and the best course of action based on your state’s laws. For insights into developing a defense strategy in DUI cases, consider exploring our detailed guide on DUI Defense Strategies and How to Formulate Your DUI Defense.

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.

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