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Refusing Field Sobriety Tests During a DUI Stop

When suspected of DUI, you may be asked to take a standardized field sobriety test. This test consists of physical tasks such as a walk-and-turn test, walking in a straight line, touching your nose, and reciting the alphabet backward, and a one-leg stand test to determine intoxication levels.

It is often in your best interest to refuse if you have consumed alcohol and have been drunk driving. Standard field sobriety tests are known for their inaccuracy, and not meeting the officer's expectations can incriminate you. Additionally, you can still be arrested for DUI based on the officer's observations alone. Politely declining the standardized tests may help your case, even though you can still be arrested.

For more information about field sobriety testing, contact Ktenas Law's Chicago DUI attorneys at (312) 800-1626.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are a series of physical, mental, and coordination tests utilized by law enforcement officers to assess the level of intoxication of an individual.

These tests may involve tasks such as walking in a straight line, balancing on one foot, reciting the alphabet, or counting backward. Other tests involve having the suspect follow an object with their eyes, such as a pen, or touching their nose with their index finger.

Does Refusing a Field Sobriety Test Help a DUI Defense?

When a driver is stopped by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may be asked to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests are designed to measure physical and cognitive abilities that may be impaired due to intoxication.

Refusing such tests can have serious consequences, including being charged with DUI. However, in certain circumstances refusing a field sobriety test may be beneficial for the driver’s defense in court.

The Purpose of Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are used by police officers to assess a suspect's impairment due to alcohol or drugs during a DUI stop. FSTs are typically administered at the scene of the traffic stop and can consist of physical tests, such as walking a straight line or standing on one leg, as well as cognitive tests, such as reciting the alphabet backward. The purpose of these tests is to determine if a driver is impaired enough to be charged with DUI.

What Do Cops Look for During a Sobriety Test?

During a police DUI stop, officers use field sobriety tests (FSTs) to determine if a driver is impaired or not. The three standardized FSTs approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test.

Officers look for specific signs of legal intoxication, such as the odor of alcohol, an inability to maintain balance, or difficulty following directions, that can provide probable cause for an arrest.

Should You Refuse Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests are the physical and mental exercises police officers use to evaluate whether a driver is impaired. These tests, which are used as evidence in DUI arrests, can be incredibly unreliable. That’s why everyone should refuse field sobriety tests during a DUI stop.

a woman performing a field sobriety test for a police officer

First of all, field sobriety standards tests have come under fire for being notoriously inaccurate. They often rely heavily on subjective, non-scientific observations by the police officer administering the test. Furthermore, even if your results indicate that you are not above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC), you can still be arrested and charged with DUI based solely on the officer’s observations of your behavior.

Therefore, it is best to politely decline a field sobriety test when asked by an officer. You can still be arrested for DUI without taking the test, but it may help your case if you refuse to take part in a potentially unreliable form of evidence. 

What Happens if You Refuse Testing When Pulled Over for a DUI?

When a law enforcement officer pulls you over for a DUI, they may ask you to take field sobriety tests or breathalyzer tests. Depending on the state laws, refusing these tests may result in consequences. Some states have Implied Consent Laws which require people to submit to testing when requested by an officer. Refusal of testing under implied consent laws can result in an automatic license suspension, even if you are found not guilty of DUI in court.

Despite the potential consequences, most legal experts agree that it is in your best interest to politely refuse the field sobriety tests and breath test device when pulled over for a DUI. The evidence gathered during these types of tests can be unreliable and may be used against you in court. By refusing to take the tests, you can protect yourself and your rights.

When a driver is pulled over by law enforcement on suspicion of driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, the officer will usually request the driver to participate in field sobriety standard tests. These tests, such as walking in a straight line or reciting specific words, are utilized to assess whether an individual is impaired. Drivers who refuse to take these tests may face legal penalties.

In some states, refusing to take common sobriety tests or a chemical blood alcohol test can result in an automatic suspension of the driver’s license. Other states may impose fines or jail time for refusal. Additionally, if you are found guilty of driving under the influence after refusing to submit to chemical testing, you may be subject to harsher penalties than if you had taken the tests.

It is important to remember that the decision to take or refuse field sobriety tests is ultimately up to you. If you choose to refuse, it is important to do so politely and cooperatively. Every state has different laws regarding refusal of testing, so be sure to consult an attorney if you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities.

Can You be Arrested if You Refuse to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests?

You can be arrested for field sobriety test refusal during a DUI stop. Your refusal may not be used as evidence in court, but it can still be used as reasonable suspicion of intoxication. This can lead to a DUI arrest. Officers often still arrest you for chemical test refusal. Your refusal can be seen as a sign that you knew you were impaired and were trying to avoid a DUI charge. 

Call Chicago DUI Defense Today

If you have been pulled over and accused of driving under the influence (DUI), you may be asked to perform field sobriety tests which include physical tests and different forms of chemical tests. While it is important to comply with law enforcement, you are not legally obligated to comply with a field sobriety test – even if the police officer orders you to do so. If this is your situation, you must contact a DUI defense attorney immediately.

An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights, protect your future, and provide you with the legal advice and representation you need. Contact Ktenas Law today for a free initial consultation regarding your drunk driving charge.

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