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Can I Refuse A Field Sobriety Test?


Date: July 24, 2017

When you are stopped by law enforcement because they suspect DUI, you may be asked to submit to a Standard Field Sobriety Test. But you can refuse this test, as it is voluntary under most circumstances.

Even if you have not been drinking, you may struggle to complete this test, as many do. Then your failure is seen as incriminating evidence to build a DUI case. So it is always best to refuse a Standard field sobriety test and get the help of a DUI criminal defense lawyer right away.

For a criminal defense DUI lawyer, defending you against refusal to take a field sobriety test is easier than taking the test, failing it and being arrested for DUI under those circumstances. Instead, you do not provide the state any more evidence to use against you.

Part of the problem with field sobriety tests is their antiquity. These tests are more than 40 years old, having undergone few updates or changes over the years.

Why You May Need to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test

Field sobriety tests are difficult, in their roadside nature. These types of tests almost set you up for failure, particularly if you suffer any problems with dexterity on a daily basis. Balance problems and other supposed indications of drunkenness may be your natural, sober inability to fulfill the officer’s test requirements.

Another reason for not taking a field sobriety test is their subjective nature. Officers are supposed to follow set instructions. But the results are not determined through a set standard. Instead, the officer uses his or her own judgment to decide if you are drunk. This judgment is often incorrect.

You do not know which field sobriety test an officer will ask you to perform until that moment of the test. So if you agree to submit to field testing, you may misunderstand the instructions or how to perform the test effectively. With this confusion and possible intimidation by the officer and your circumstances, you may find yourself failing the test you normally would complete without struggle.

Sober People Do Not Always Pass Field Sobriety Tests

Do not take it for granted that being sober means you will pass a field sobriety test. Instead, consider that recent studies show many sober people fail these tests, unable to perform the required actions. In most cases these failures lead to arrest despite complete sobriety. So it is always best to answer an officer’s request for you to take a field sobriety test by saying, “No thank you.” Simply be polite and answer directly in a calm manner. This keeps you from further incriminating yourself.

Immediately Get the Help of a DUI Lawyer

If you are charged with DUI, immediately contact a skilled DUI criminal defense lawyer. Particularly when you are wrongly charged with this offense, a DUI lawyer helps you overcome your charges. The same is true for failing a breathalyzer or other chemical testing for DUI, with many defenses existing for these types of DUI cases.

Regardless of the circumstances of your DUI, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Arizona takes a tough position against drunk and drugged drivers, with some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the nation.

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About the Author

Attorney James A. Abate practices Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, Business Litigation, Real Estate & Personal injury cases in Union County, New Jersey.