Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

If you’ve been pulled over for driving while intoxicated, a police officer may ask you to take a Field Sobriety Test (FST). It’s important to know you have a legal right to deny participating in the test but understand what that means for the next steps in your case before you do.

What Is A Field Sobriety Test?

Police officers use FSTs as a physical test to gauge a person’s level of impairment while driving. An FST differs from a blood alcohol concentration test.

The three standard National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) FSTs include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand.

A police officer often uses a driver’s poor FST results to justify a DUI arrest. For a DUI arrest to be legal, the officer must have evidence and probable cause. Driving pattern, manner of speech, and the driver’s appearance can contribute to the probable cause, but a poor FST performance can help.

Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

The short answer is yes; you can refuse a field sobriety test after being pulled over. FSTs are voluntary, and you can not be punished or charged with a crime.

However, the officer can testify in court that you refused to take the FST. This means your refusal to take the test may look like you were trying to hide that you were impaired.

If you already submitted to an FST, the officer may testify in court that your poor performance proves intoxicated driving. However, a savvy defense attorney will argue that your poor FST performance was due to something other than intoxication, such as tiredness, and that, in general, FSTs are unreliable indicators of impairment.

Note that even if you deny the FST but are arrested for driving under the influence, generally, you must take a blood, breath, or urine test at an officer’s request once you’re at the police station.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Charged With A DUI or DWI?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI, reach out to VanWa Legal’s attorneys to help you mount a robust defense for your case.

We have vast experience navigating the Washington State court system and advocating for our clients who have been charged with DUIs.

We offer free consultations to help you understand your chances and afford quality representation in your case.