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Can you refuse a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Drunk Driving

When a police officer pulls you over, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test (FST). This is a series of physical tests designed to determine if you are impaired. But do you have the right to refuse this test?

It’s important to know the purpose of these tests and the consequences of taking or refusing them. The first step in protecting your rights is knowing what they are.

What are field sobriety tests?

An FST is a type of standardized test used by police officers to determine a person’s sobriety when suspected of driving under the influence. This type of test assesses motor skills and physical abilities that can be affected when inebriated. Such tests include:

  • The walk-and-turn
  • One-leg stand
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Finger-to-nose
  • Reciting the alphabet 

If you choose to take an FST, it’s essential to understand that they are subjective tests. The officer administering them will decide whether or not you passed based on their own opinion. This means that even if you think you did well on the test, the officer could still decide you failed.

However, you have the right to refuse any FSTs; in most cases, it’s best to exercise that right. If you have a medical condition or disability that might affect your ability to perform the test, or if you’re unable to understand the officer’s instructions, you may want to refuse the test. Additionally, if you know that you have consumed a significant amount of alcohol or drugs, taking the test may not be in your best interest as it could provide evidence of your intoxication.

If you do refuse a field sobriety test, it is important to remember to stay polite and cooperative with law enforcement officers. Refusing a test doesn’t mean you should be belligerent or uncooperative, as that may lead to additional charges.