Everything You Need to Know About DUI Field Sobriety Tests

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 19, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

DUI stops are stressful, whether or not you've been drinking. Adding to the stress involved, you may be called upon to take a test...

You may be wondering: Can I decline a field sobriety test? What happens if I do? Can I get arrested anyway? What if I want to challenge the tests in court? We would never encourage anyone to drive after they've been drinking, and we can't give you specific legal advice, but what we can do is answer your most common questions about DUIs and field sobriety tests.

DUI Basics: What Is a PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) Test?

Along with testing coordination and motor function to detect inebriation, officers may also request that drivers suspected of DUI submit to a breathalyzer or PAS test. In most cases, police will need some prior probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated before requested the test.

Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

While you can always refuse to submit to a field sobriety test -- as long as police don't have a warrant -- the question becomes whether you should refuse the test. You may feel more cavalier about taking it if you haven't had anything to drink (or if you've had too much), but there are costs and benefits to test refusals. As opposed to breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests for physical coordination, or lack thereof, normally don't fall under most states' implied consent laws, so there may be less of a downside to refusing them.

What Happens If I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer?

Your license will likely be revoked, however, if you refuse a breathalyzer. Whether going without a license for 6-12 months in order to avoid a DUI conviction is something you'll have to weigh on your own, but be aware that you may still be found guilty of a DUI even without a breathalyzer reading showing your blood alcohol content.

Can You Get a DUI Based Solely on an Officer's Statement?

The police don't necessary need incriminating field sobriety tests or illegally high breathalyzer results in order to arrest you for DUI, and it's possible to get convicted for drunk driving based solely on an officer's testimony regarding your driving and any indicia of intoxication.

3 Ways to Challenge Field Sobriety Tests

Not all field sobriety tests are created equal, and some have been found to have a very low correlation to actual intoxication levels. So it may be possible to prove that poor results from a field sobriety test were not indicative of inebriation.

Can Police Breath Test for Drugs?

The "I" in DUI, DWI, or OWI refers to intoxication or influence, which means it's not just drunk driving that can get you arrested. Driving while high or under the influence of any drug is illegal, and cops are getting some new technology to find out it if you're intoxicated.

If you've been charged with a DUI based on field sobriety tests or your refusal to take them, contact an experienced DUI attorney today.

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