You’re on the road minding your own business when all of a sudden, lights are flashing behind you. It’s the police, and they are pulling you over. You move to the side of the road. After a quick chat with the officer, you are asked to submit to field sobriety testing. Do you have to comply with this request?
The decision you make in this type of situation is an important one. Yes, you do have the right to refuse. However, you need to decide if refusing is the best option for you. That is a tough call to make if you aren’t sure what the consequences are for doing so.
Field sobriety basics
Before diving further into your ability to refuse sobriety testing, let’s discuss the different types of field sobriety tests often used in Florida. First, there are physical tests. Those most commonly recognized are:
- The walk and turn
- The one-leg stand
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus
With two of these, an officer will ask you to perform specific physical tasks in order to check your ability to pay attention and your ability to balance yourself. With one of these tests, the HGN, an officer will ask you to move your eyes in different directions to see if they make an exaggerated jerking motion. Failure to complete the tasks is a sign of impairment, and it could result in your arrest. Along with physical tests, the officer could ask you to submit to a roadside breath test.
You may refuse this test, but not the breath test and/or blood test performed at the police station or jail due to implied consent laws. Many experts consider these the most accurate forms of alcohol screening. However, they are not without their faults. Failed chemical testing is not necessarily the end of the world, but in the moment, failure may result in charges.
As previously stated, you have the right to refuse, even if you’ve been told otherwise. However, you must know that if you refuse, you may still find yourself under arrest and you may face administrative consequences as well, which means you may lose your driver’s license, for a time.
By refusing, you are not admitting guilt. You are simply standing your ground and exercising your right to say no. There are consequences whether you say yes or no when asked to comply with field sobriety testing. You just have to decide whether refusing will serve your best interests in the long run.