What can happen if you refuse to take a field sobriety test?

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What can happen if you refuse to take a field sobriety test?

I was pulled over tonight and suspected of being under the influence of drugs because I did poorly on field balance tests because I am overweight, and the cop said my eyes were bloodshot. I was 100% alcohol and drug free. I’d like to know if in the future I can refuse to take field tests. The cop did allow me to leave, eventually.

Asked on July 5, 2015 under Criminal Law, Minnesota

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests.  This is, at least hypothetically, a voluntary act on your part.  However, keep in mind that if you refuse and the officer can articulate sufficient reasons for believing that you are intoxicated, they could still move forward to arrest you. Even if they don't arrest you for DUI, many will arrest for public intoxication just to get a suspected drunk driver off the road because their burden of proof is lower. 

The other potential consequence of refusing to cooperate is that a jury down the road (if the case gets that far) may and usually does infer that the reason for the refusal is because you are hiding something.

With that being said, if you do okay of field sobriety tests, do them so you can just end the inquiry on the side of the road.  If you do poorly at these tests or you have been drinking, refuse them and refuse any breath alcohol tests-- because all you are doing is giving the state evidence to use against you.  Your license could be suspended for the breath test refusal, but you can work around the suspension with an occupational license.  The work around is much cheaper and easier than defending a criminal DUI charge.


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