Four Reasons to Refuse a Field Sobriety Test

Tracy Tiernan - July 9, 2023 - Criminal Defense, DUI

You are out for a night with friends or on your way home from work when you see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over, and the police officer asks you to step out of the car and perform a field sobriety test. What should you do? While it may seem like the best option to comply with the officer’s request, there are numerous reasons why you should refuse a field sobriety test.

If you are facing DUI charges after failing or refusing a field sobriety test, our lawyer at The Law Office of Tracy Tiernan can help. Our Tulsa criminal defense lawyer helps clients develop defense strategies tailored to their circumstances to fight DUI charges.

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are physical coordination tests used by law enforcement officers to determine if a person is impaired while driving. There are three standardized FSTs that are recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk-and-Turn (WAT) test, and the One-Leg Stand (OLS) test. An officer will use these tests to see if a person’s physical and mental abilities have been affected by alcohol or drugs. If an officer believes that a person has failed an FST, they may place them under arrest for DUI.

Four Reasons Why You Should Consider Refusing a Field Sobriety Test

There are at least four reasons why you should consider refusing a field sobriety test when stopped by the police on suspicion of drunk driving:

Reason #1: Field Sobriety Tests Have Questionable Accuracy

While the standardized FSTs have been approved by the NHTSA, they are still subject to interpretation by the officer administering the test. Additionally, other factors can influence the result, such as poor lighting, weather conditions, and distractions. Even the smallest mistake made by the person taking the test can skew the result. As a result, FSTs have been criticized for their questionable accuracy.

Reason #2: You Can Fail the Test Even if You are Sober

It is important to note that a person can fail an FST even if they are completely sober. Factors such as age, weight, physical condition, and nervousness can all affect the results of a field sobriety test. Additionally, there are medical conditions that can impair a person’s ability to perform the tests correctly, resulting in a false-positive reading.

Reason #3: The Police May Lack Probable Cause to Arrest You Without a Field Sobriety Test

While it might seem like police officers have the right to perform a field sobriety test at any time, they are only allowed to do so when they have probable cause to suspect a driver is under the influence. If an officer does not have probable cause, they cannot legally arrest a person for DUI. By refusing a field sobriety test, a person may be able to prevent an officer from obtaining the probable cause necessary for an arrest.

Reason #4: You Cannot Be Forced to Submit to Field Sobriety Testing

Many people assume that they are legally required to take a field sobriety test if they are asked, but this is not true. Refusing a field sobriety test is within a person’s rights, and a police officer cannot force them to undertake the test. While there may be consequences to refusing, such as a license suspension, it is important to remember that an FST is not mandatory.

A DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help

While it may seem like it is in your best interest to agree to a field sobriety test when asked, it is vital to remember that you have the right to refuse. By refusing an FST, you may protect yourself from a wrongful arrest or conviction. Schedule a free case evaluation with our lawyer at The Law Office of Tracy Tiernan to identify your best strategy for fighting DUI charges. Call 918-587-7377 today. 

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