You’ve had a couple drinks at a bar, but you feel fine. You decide to drive home when you are stopped by a police officer. He asks you to perform a field sobriety test, but you don’t want to. Can you refuse to do so? If so, what are the consequences?
There are many types of field sobriety tests that a police officer may ask you to perform if they think you may be drinking and driving. The three most common ones are the one-leg stand, walk-and-turn and horizontal gaze nystagmus. These tests are used for a police officer to gauge your level of impairment and determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to ask you to submit to blood or breath testing.
However, if you are asked to perform one, you have the right to politely refuse under Maryland law. You will not receive any penalties for refusing a field sobriety test, unlike a blood or breath test, in which a refusal can lead to a license suspension of 270 days.
While field sobriety tests are supposed to be standardized, they are not. These tests are subjective and based on the police officer’s own interpretation. It is possible for the officer to claim that the driver failed to test, even if they did it perfectly. Therefore, it may not be in your best interest to proceed with one.
Another reason why you might want to refuse a field sobriety test is if you have medical conditions. For example, if you have mobility issues, you will likely not be able to pass the one-leg stand, even if you are 100% sober. The same applies if you suffer from neurological conditions, vertigo and other medical issues that can make it difficult to walk or stand.
If you refuse a field sobriety test, you could still be arrested for a DUI if the police officer believes you are a danger to others or you are trying to hide something. You cannot decline other forms of DUI testing without facing penalties, so it is best to submit to them.
If you do decline the test, do it politely. You do not have to give a reason. Do not become verbally or physically abusive toward the police officer, as this can lead to additional criminal charges.
If a police officer arrests you, they must have probable cause to do so. If you are 100% sober and still arrested for a DUI, seek legal help right away.
Drinking and driving is a serious crime. Such an action can lead to a car accident, which can cause serious injuries and even death.
As such, law enforcement may employ various forms of testing to keep drunk drivers off the road. If you refused a field sobriety test and were still arrested, seek legal help from the Columbia DUI & traffic offenses attorneys at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. For a free consultation, call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form.
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