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Why you should refuse a sobriety test during a DUI stop 

On Behalf of | Mar 14, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Finding yourself in a DUI stop can be an overwhelming experience as you try to avoid any actions that could draw suspicion from the police officer.

During such stops, it is essential to remain calm and cooperative, but you must also understand your rights to make informed decisions.

After handing over any requested documents, law enforcement may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests to assess whether you are driving under the influence. While it might seem counterintuitive, there are compelling reasons to decline doing these tests.

You are legally allowed to say no

Under the law, police officers can order a driver out of the vehicle. However, it is vital to understand that you have the right to turn down any standardized field sobriety tests as they are voluntary in Maryland, meaning you may refuse participation without facing direct legal penalties.

Refusing to take sobriety tests can lead to the immediate suspension of your driving license or even to your arrest, but most people who agree to take them are usually arrested anyway due to the subjective nature of these tests.

Field sobriety tests are subjective

Police officers often give out field sobriety tests to drivers who are suspected to be under the influence. These typically involve physical or cognitive exercises, like the one-leg stand test, walk and turn test, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Through these tests, law enforcement gauges the driver’s coordination, balance and ability to follow instructions, which can be impaired by alcohol or drug use.

It is important to note that these tests depend heavily on the officer’s interpretation. Completely sober drivers can fail due to anxiety, physical conditions or misinterpretation of instructions.

Understanding the pros and cons of refusing sobriety tests is crucial in protecting your rights during a DUI stop. Declining to participate will not prevent your arrest, but it can be a strategic choice to limit the evidence against you. It is advisable to remain calm and respectful during the interaction with a police officer and politely request legal representation as soon as possible.