What Happens If You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

When a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test. This test is designed to assess the driver’s physical and mental capabilities, and it typically includes tasks such as walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and following an object with the eyes.

However, what happens if you refuse to take a field sobriety test? It’s important to understand your rights and the potential consequences of refusing. In this blog post, we will explore the legal implications and the possible outcomes if you decide not to participate in a field sobriety test.

The Right to Refuse

In most jurisdictions, individuals have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. This right stems from the protection against self-incrimination provided by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, it’s essential to note that refusing a field sobriety test does not mean you won’t face any consequences.

Legal Consequences

Refusing a field sobriety test can have various legal consequences, depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances. Some common consequences include:

  • Automatic License Suspension: In many states, refusing a field sobriety test can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. The length of the suspension can vary, but it is typically longer than the suspension for a failed breathalyzer test.
  • Inference of Guilt: Refusing a field sobriety test can be used against you in court as evidence of guilt. Prosecutors may argue that you refused the test because you knew you were intoxicated and didn’t want to incriminate yourself.
  • Increased Suspicion: Refusing a field sobriety test can raise suspicions and may lead to the officer conducting further tests, such as a breathalyzer test or blood test. These tests can provide additional evidence of intoxication.
  • Additional Charges: In some cases, refusing a field sobriety test can result in additional charges, such as obstruction of justice or resisting arrest. These charges can carry severe penalties.

Alternative Options

If you choose to refuse a field sobriety test, it’s essential to remain calm and respectful. Cooperating with the officer’s requests while still asserting your rights is crucial. You can politely decline the field sobriety test and ask if you are free to leave. However, it’s important to remember that the officer may still have probable cause to arrest you based on other observations or evidence.

It’s worth noting that field sobriety tests are subjective and can be influenced by various factors, such as fatigue or medical conditions. If you believe that you are not impaired, it may be in your best interest to take the test and later challenge the results in court.


Refusing a field sobriety test is a personal decision with potential legal consequences. It’s crucial to understand your rights and the possible outcomes before making a choice. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in DUI cases can provide valuable guidance and help you navigate the legal process.

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