If an Arizona police officer suspects a driver of a DUI or DWI, it is likely that the officer will request the driver to perform a field sobriety test. As the name implies, a field sobriety test may be one of a number of tests designed to determine whether a driver is sober.
You are likely familiar with the “finger to nose” test and the more standard “walk and turn” test. It is important to know your legal rights regarding field sobriety tests before an officer ever asks you to step out of your car and perform one.
Here is the legal information you need to know to prepare for what to do if you are asked to perform a field sobriety test.
Should You Cooperate and Submit to a Sobriety Test?
It is important for drivers to understand that each and every field sobriety test requires the cooperation of the driver. Drivers are allowed to refuse a field sobriety test. Additionally, you have a right to remain silent, which is important if you have had a drink or two. The bottom line for drivers who know they will likely fail a DUI/DWI test is that it is not wise to be your own worst enemy by providing evidence to be used against you.
If you know you have not been drinking and the officer’s suspicion is unwarranted, it is likely in your best interests to submit to refuse a field sobriety test as well. Why? Field sobriety tests are subjective, meaning they depend on the officer’s assessment of your behavior. If you are completely sober but fail to walk in a straight line or fail to balance yourself on one leg, this could lead to an unnecessary arrest.
Field sobriety tests rely on the testimony of police officers and what they observed, which is utterly subjective and not the type of evidence that does a defendant any favors. Effectively, not only can you refuse a field sobriety test, you absolutely should in almost any conceivable circumstance. Submitting to these tests do you no favors when an officer pulls you over because they already are suspicious of a DUI.
Should You Submit to Any Chemical Tests?
While you should almost certainly refuse a field sobriety test, this is not to say you should refuse all tests. Arizona’s implied consent law states that anyone who has been pulled over and arrested for DUI is presumed to give implied consent for a chemical test, whether the test is a blood, breath or urine test.
Refusing such a test will automatically lead to the loss of a driver’s license for a period of at least one year. This is not a desirable outcome, and even if you refuse to take a chemical test after arrest, an officer may still obtain a search warrant that requires you to give a blood sample, In effect, if you have already been arrested, it generally does not help you to refuse taking a test.
Even if the state has no proof your BAC was too high, your refusal can be used against you by the prosecution, who will argue that you refused after arrest because you knew you were intoxicated. As such, the best course of action after an arrest is to ask to speak with your Arizona DUI defense lawyer.
In summary, while field sobriety tests should always be refused and you should always take steps toward avoiding self-incrimination, refusing a BAC test is less likely to work in your favor. If the police are requesting you to take a BAC test, it is because they already believe they have the evidence to arrest you. In such cases, save your breath and talk to your Arizona DUI defense lawyer immediately.
Your attorney will be your best chance at challenging any BAC test and fighting any and all DUI charges. Contact Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC for a legal consultation to discuss your legal rights and the facts of your Arizona DUI charge.