Posted on October 16, 2016
You have probably heard the saying “why are you afraid, if you have nothing to hide?” before. It’s most often used to frighten people into doing something unnecessary in order to make law enforcement’s job easier, which sounds good until you learn just how often it’s used to help the police make incorrect arrests as well.
Case in point: Field sobriety tests (FST). FSTs, when administered by police officers, are a set of standardized actions the individual has to complete correctly, or they can be seen as driving while impaired.
The problem is that FSTs are notoriously inaccurate, and there have been many cases where people with absolutely zero alcohol in their breath or blood will “fail” an FST, either because the standards are too high or the officer is not properly trained in administering the FST.
Police are very skilled at convincing people to take these tests. They’ll say things like “Oh, I just need a minute of your time,” “I just need to see a few tests, and you can drive away,” and other promises that they often can’t, and usually don’t, keep. In many cases, even if you pass the FST, you’ll have to take a breathalyzer test anyway.
The simple fact of the matter is that once a police officer has pulled you over, they are actively looking for evidence of a crime, and if they are even suspicious that alcohol may be involved, they will be hyper sensitive to any errors in the tests (which even fully sober people often have issues with).
The smart thing to do is to refuse to take the FST. The officer may try to imply that you refusing the test is an admission of guilt, but it is not. Be nice about refusing, but don’t let them talk you into it. A breathalyzer test or blood test will be far more accurate than any FST could possibly be, and with a blood test, an attorney can even come back later on and re-test the blood for accuracy. If you refuse to do the FST, the breathalyzer, and the blood test, then you will usually be charged with a DUI immediately, but refusal of just the FST is not an admission of guilt.
So, just to sum up: No, refusing a field sobriety test will not hurt you. Always opt for breathalyzer or blood tests instead.
If you or a loved one are ever pulled over and arrested for DUI, it’s imperative you get in touch with a DUI attorney right away. You may have legal options, and time is of the essence.