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Can you refuse to submit to a DUI field sobriety test?

Drunk driving laws are often complex. The primary rule of “don’t drive if your blood alcohol is above the legal limit” is fairly straightforward. However, numerous laws which stem from this primary rule can be nuanced and can differ depending on the circumstances of any given situation.

Take, for example, laws and regulations related to blood alcohol testing. Sometimes, one can refuse to submit to blood alcohol testing, even though this choice often comes with automatic refusal-related punishments. Sometimes, in cases involving crash-related homicides and on “no-refusal” weekends, one cannot refuse to submit to blood alcohol testing. This kind of nuanced “sometimes yes, sometimes no” approach also applies to field sobriety tests.

Unlike blood alcohol testing, one may generally refuse a field sobriety test without suffering negative legal consequences automatically. Of course, a law enforcement officer may still have enough probable cause to arrest you if you refuse to take a field sobriety test, however, you will not be subjected to automatic penalties simply due to your refusal.

Yet, it is important to understand that if a law enforcement officer has a warrant, you may not generally refuse his or her instructions to submit to a blood or field sobriety test. Although you can refuse technically, you cannot generally do so legally. If you have questions about DUI law, do not hesitate to ask to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after you are pulled over or arrested. An attorney should generally be able to advise you on the particulars of your situation.

Source: Findlaw Blotter, “Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?” Brett Snider, Oct. 16, 2014

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