Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Can you refuse a field sobriety test?

Let's face it; we all hate getting pulled over, no matter the reason or speculation. It can be a frustrating experience because no one wants to face a traffic violation. However, being stopped by law enforcement is possible in Louisiana and elsewhere. And in some cases, it is because officers suspect that a motorist is under the influence of alcohol. When this occurs, police officers will likely take steps to attempt to prove their suspicions that a motorist is drunk driving.

The best way to establish whether a driver is intoxicated is by conducting a field sobriety test. This three-part test can help establish a driver is too impaired to be driving. This includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn test and the one-leg stand test. This test is officially endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety administration and most law enforcement officers will ask drivers to submit to these test to establish whether they were driving drunk or not.

However, some motorist might be wondering about this test and if it is required. Can you refuse a field sobriety test? The simple answer to this is yes. Anyone can refuse this test because it is an investigative aid for police officers. However, one should keep in mind that this may not stop an officer from arresting a motorist for a DUI.

With regards to a preliminary alcohol screening test, motorists can also refuse to submit to these. This is used to measure the blood alcohol concentration in a driver. This test is not the same as the evidentiary breath sample. When a motorist is asked to take a Breathalyzer, he or she could refuse it, but it is important to know that serious consequences could follow. Implied consent laws require a driver to submit to this type of breath test.

Facing a drunk driving charge is an emotional and overwhelming experience. It can also be a confusing time, as a motorist may not understand their rights, what evidence is credible and allowed and whether they have defense options available. By seeking legal guidance, a motorist accused of a DUI can take steps to protect their rights, future and interests.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Can I Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests?" accessed April 15, 2018

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Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

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