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Can you refuse to take field sobriety tests?

You may be familiar with field sobriety tests from movies and television shows. You see a cop pull someone over for drunk driving and make the driver walk a straight line or stand on one leg. You may even practice saying your alphabet backward in case it ever happens to you.

However, you may not find the real situation as entertaining as actors make it seem. A traffic stop for a DUI can leave you with hefty fines and possible jail time. You may think working with the police can help you avoid an arrest. But when the officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, should you comply?

Police need probable cause to arrest you

When police suspect you of driving under the influence, they will try to gather any evidence that confirms their suspicion. They might smell for alcohol on your breath or see if your eyes are bloodshot. They will try to see if you slur your words or have trouble communicating. The evidence they gather not only gives them a reason to arrest you but can also strengthen a case against you.

Field sobriety tests can confirm DUI suspicions

To gather more evidence, the police may ask you to do a field sobriety test. The tests they ask you to perform can help them confirm their suspicions. And in many cases, the officer may have already decided to arrest you. If you think you will avoid arrest by complying, you may just give the police evidence against yourself.

In court, the results of field sobriety tests may help convict you

At your trial, the prosecutor can introduce the results of field sobriety tests to strengthen the case against you. If you decline to take them, you can take away that evidence. While you can still face conviction, you have a better chance of fighting charges if you give police less evidence.

When you face an arrest and charges for a DUI, you may feel like you should comply with whatever police ask of you. However, by doing field sobriety tests, you may give a judge more reason to convict you.