Field Sobriety Tests: Are They Required?

Field Sobriety Tests: Are They Required?

If you are ever pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, the police officer may ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to determine whether or not you are exhibiting signs of intoxication. But, are you required to take them? Here’s what you need to know to protect your rights:

Are Field Sobriety Tests Required?

There is no law that requires drivers to take field sobriety tests during a DWI/DUI stop. Police officers typically don’t tell drivers that these tests are completely voluntary, but it’s true. Refusing to take the field sobriety tests, however, does not mean you are off the hook. The police officer can still arrest you for DWI even if you refuse to take the field sobriety tests.

Field Sobriety Tests vs. Chemical Tests

It’s important to note the difference between field sobriety tests and chemical tests. A field sobriety test allows officers to evaluate your balance, coordination, and concentration as you perform a series of movements. A chemical test involves using a sample of your breath, blood, or urine to determine if you are intoxicated. There are no consequences for refusing to take a field sobriety test, but there are penalties for refusing to take a chemical test. Keep this in mind if you are ever pulled over on suspicion of DWI.

To Refuse Or Not to Refuse

Field sobriety tests are not always accurate. Many people find these tests difficult to perform even when they are completely sober. Balancing on one leg or walking in a perfectly straight line is challenging for people who are nervous or wearing uncomfortable shoes at the time of the DWI stop. But, the police officer could mistake your nervousness or discomfort for intoxication.

People with mental or physical disabilities can struggle to follow instructions or complete certain parts of the field sobriety tests even if they are sober. If the police officer isn’t aware of your mental or physical disability, he will assume you are intoxicated if you are unable to perform the tests. His observations can then be used as evidence against you in court even though they are inaccurate. Because these tests are unreliable, many criminal defense attorneys advise drivers to refuse to take them.

Have you been charged with DWI? If so, the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center can help. Trained at the nationally renowned Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College and mentored under award-winning trial attorney and firm founder Kim Benjamin, you can trust our attorneys will fight tirelessly to reach the best possible outcome in your case. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.

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