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Saying no to field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Being convicted of drunk driving in Texas has serious penalties. But it is important to remember that to secure a conviction the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

This requires the presenting of direct, reliable evidence. Sometimes the prosecution uses failed field sobriety tests as evidence.

What are field sobriety tests?

Field sobriety tests are a series of activities you are often asked to perform at a DUI stop. The tests are designed to measure your balance and coordination.

Examples of field sobriety tests include being asked to walk a straight line, follow a small light with your eyes or recite the alphabet backwards.

The problem with field sobriety tests is they do not accurately detect if someone is drunk driving. There are many reasons people fail field sobriety tests that have nothing to do with them being drunk.

Even sober people can fail field sobriety tests simply because they are nervous. Being pulled over by police officers who is an anxious experience for many people.

Saying no is your right

You have a right to say no to field sobriety tests. In fact, when you are pulled over for DUI you should say and do nothing at all aside from provide the officers with your name and copies of your driver’s license and registration.

Police officers cannot arrest you for DUI unless they have probable cause. They do not always have probable cause when they pull you over because they only need reasonable suspicion to pull someone over.

Therefore, police officers sometimes rely on failed field sobriety tests to obtain the probable cause needed for a DUI arrest. But you have a right to refuse to take the tests.

This can understandably be difficult. We tend to believe we must do everything police officers tell us to do and we may be afraid to say no to them, believing they have the power to penalize us.

While you can also refuse a breathalyzer test, you could face legal penalties for doing so. However, there are no potential legal penalties for saying no to a field sobriety test.