When it comes to DUI charges, one of the biggest areas of confusion involves field sobriety testing. If you’re pulled over, should you agree to take field sobriety tests? Are you bound by law to do so? What happens if you refuse?
In this blog, I’ll try to address these issues so you know what to do if you’re stopped for DUI in Michigan.
What Are Field Sobriety Tests?
Field sobriety tests are roadside tests administered by law enforcement officers to drivers who have been pulled over for suspected DUI. Typically, the arresting officer would have noticed some type of driving behavior (swerving, running a red light, etc.) that could indicate the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer would pull the driver over and, depending on the officer’s observations of the driver’s mannerisms and answers to the officer’s questions, may ask him or her to step out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests are meant to gauge a driver’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions, all of which could be negatively influenced by alcohol and/or drugs. A driver’s performance on tests like the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand can be used to support a drunk driving arrest and charges.
Are You Required to Submit to Field Sobriety Testing?
In Michigan, you are not legally required to submit to field sobriety testing if you’re pulled over for OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) or OWVI (Operating While Visually Impaired). The officer may ask you multiple times to take these tests, but you are not required to comply. The officer will probably not tell you that you have the right to refuse these tests. Your best option is to politely decline and then exercise your right to remain silent. Try not to get argumentative or physically resist if the officer decides to make an arrest, as this could result in further charges and complications.
What Happens If You Refuse Roadside Tests?
There are advantages and disadvantages to refusing field sobriety tests. On the plus side, there will be no evidence of poor performance on these tests to be used against you in court. It could even be argued that there’s insufficient evidence to support a DUI arrest in the first place, which may result in a dismissal of your case. On the negative side, the prosecuting attorney may argue that you refused field sobriety tests because you knew you were guilty. This “consciousness of guilt” argument has been the subject of much scrutiny and varying court opinions over the years, so your attorney will have to decide how to address this if it arises.
Put a Farmington Hills DUI Defense Attorney in Your Corner
Whether you agree to or refuse field sobriety tests, your best option after a DUI arrest is to involve an attorney. This is your right, and exercising it may be your only chance of avoiding a conviction and serious penalties. As a Farmington Hills DUI lawyer with nearly two decades of experience under my belt, I understand what it takes to challenge poor performance on field sobriety tests and outright refusals. I know the science behind DUI breath tests and how to challenge these results. I am committed to asserting each client’s rights to the fullest extent in every case I take on.
To learn more, call (248) 599-0054. I’m ready to listen and help.