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You can say no to field sobriety tests

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Criminal defense |

A DUI stop is a stressful experience for almost anyone. It is natural for you to feel nervous when interacting with the police officers, especially if you did have a drink or two.

DUI convictions in Virginia come with serious penalties so it is important that you know your rights when you are stopped for suspicion of DUI.

Do not provide the police officers with any information aside from your name. Give them your driver’s license and vehicle registration if they ask. Never admit to drinking anything. Exercising your right to remain silent is vital in this situation.

What are field sobriety tests?

Another right you have which you might not realize is the right to refuse field sobriety tests. These are tests designed to test your physical and mental capabilities, including balance and coordination.

You might be asked to walk a straight line, follow a small, pointed light with your eyes or count backwards from a certain number.

One of the problems with field sobriety tests is they are often unreliable. Some people are less coordinated than others and may have trouble with the physical tests no matter what.

Additionally, field sobriety tests require you to listen carefully to the police officer’s instructions on how to perform the test before starting. Anxiety makes it difficult to listen and follow directions.

Certain medical conditions may also cause failed field sobriety tests. Vision problems can make it hard to walk in a straight line, while vertigo or inner ear problems can cause people to lose their balance.

A failed field sobriety test usually results in arrest

Therefore, failing a field sobriety test could come from any number of reasons besides being intoxicated. However, a failed test gives police officers the probable cause they need to make a DUI arrest.

While there is no penalty for refusing field sobriety tests, there are potential legal penalties for refusing a blood or breath test. If you fail a blood or breath test, there are still potential criminal defenses that could be available to you if you are arrested for DUI.