The Pros of Avoiding the Field Sobriety Test
Police officers seldom advice suspects of their right to refuse a field sobriety test, however, people do have the right to refuse. Refusing a field sobriety test will only reduce the amount of incriminating evidence against you in front of a judge or jury.
When you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, one of the first things the officer will ask you to do is perform a field sobriety test. Are you required by law to perform such a test? The answer is no, you are not. Unlike the chemical test refusal, there are no legal penalties for refusing to take a field sobriety test.
Field sobriety tests are conducted before an arrest for DUI and the purpose of these tests is to aid the officer in determining if you are driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as to give the officer probable cause to arrest you. Unfortunately, submitting to such tests only strengthens the police officer’s case – not yours. When a judge or jury examines the evidence, a failed field sobriety test will not help you in a court of law.
First of all, keep in mind that these tests are strictly voluntary and taking a series of field sobriety tests will only harm your case – they will not help you. In fact, even sober people can have trouble passing a field sobriety test. Lack of sleep, lack of physical coordination or a medical condition can cause you to fail miserably.
Field sobriety tests are subjective in nature; this means they can be entirely based on opinion, not fact. If you ask the officer to repeat directions, they can fail you. Furthermore, field sobriety tests are not based on physical evidence or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) – they are based on the officer’s opinion on whether or not you are intoxicated. If you choose to refuse to take the test, you are not necessarily admitting guilt – these tests are not foolproof and the officers are aware of that fact.
Field sobriety tests are conducted outside of your vehicle at the roadside. They can be conducted beside a busy freeway or in your local shopping mall parking lot. Upon completion of the field sobriety tests, the police officer will make the determination if you passed or failed. Depending on their assessment, they will either decide to arrest you for DUI, release you or request you to take a roadside breath test.
Field sobriety tests are 100% voluntary. Therefore, you have the lawful right to refuse and you will not be penalized for refusing to take a field sobriety test. Instead of agreeing to a field sobriety test, or a series of tests, you can politely refuse. Displaying rude or offensive behavior will not help your case in any way.
If you were to appear obviously drunk in a videotaped field sobriety test, it would not help your case in front of a judge or jury. Therefore, exercising your right to refuse can go a long way in court. If you need more information about legally refusing field sobriety tests, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who can answer any questions that you might have. A lawyer can also listen to your situation and give you a strong sense of direction for your case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The Law Offices of Scott C. Nolan
The Law Offices of Scott C. Nolan is a criminal defense firm serving the residents of Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia. Their firm specializes in all types of criminal defense including, but not limited to, DUI, drug crimes, theft crimes, violent crimes, traffic offenses, weapons offenses and much more. They provide their clients with the utmost care and attention to detail.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.