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Can I Refuse Field Sobriety Testing?

Man going through field sobriety testing.

Are there any penalties if I refuse field sobriety testing?

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in the state of Arizona, you will likely be asked to complete some roadside tests. Roadside sobriety tests are known as Field Sobriety Tests or FSTs. There are three main tests approved nationally for use on DUI suspects. These include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand. Several other tests may optionally be administered, like the heel-to-toe test and alphabet recitation. Arizona DUI suspects are often unclear as to their rights during the stop; can you refuse field sobriety testing? Our Phoenix DUI lawyers answer this question and explain more about field sobriety tests below.

Field Sobriety Testing Basics 

During a roadside stop, officers will look to gather evidence of your intoxication. This is primarily done through breathalyzer and field sobriety testing. You will be asked to complete one or more field sobriety tests. The officer will give you instructions for the test, administer the test, then judge your performance. If you perform poorly, this will be used against you in court.

Concerns have long existed as to the accuracy of these tests. In order to be considered accurate, an FST must be instructed, administered, then interpreted in compliance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards. In reality, however, FSTs are rarely conducted per the guidelines. Officers may skimp on instructions, conduct tests in poor lighting, misinterpret medical conditions, and much more. This makes field sobriety testing dangerous and potentially wildly inaccurate for the stopped driver.

Refusing the Field Sobriety Tests

Per Arizona law, field sobriety testing is not mandatory and, unlike breathalyzer testing, there is not a penalty for refusing these tests. Given the potential inaccuracies of these tests, it is often recommended that drivers politely refuse the testing if stopped for a DUI. Drivers should be aware that refusing the tests could be brought up in court in an attempt to implicate your guilt.  However, the potential for failure of these tests by even drivers who are sober may outweigh this concern. As always, it is best to consult with a DUI attorney as soon as possible after your stop for individualized recommendations as to the best course of action. 

Posted in: DUI