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Do I have to take field sobriety tests?


Several previous posts on this blog have discussed what sorts of field sobriety tests a Killeen, Texas resident might be asked to take if he or she is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving.

The key things to remember about these tests are first, that the police can and will use them in any ensuing DUI/DWI charge they intend to pursue.

Second, and perhaps of equal importance, a Texas resident should remember that they have the right to decline to take any or all of these tests, and there is not much law enforcement can do about a driver’s decision to refuse these tests. People have the right not to give evidence against themselves, and field sobriety tests are not tests that fall within the purview of Texas’s implied consent law.

Whether a person would, as a practical matter, want to refuse to take field sobriety tests is really a question that depends heavily on the circumstances. Many defense attorneys in Texas advise against taking them. In any event, the important thing to remember is that a law enforcement officer probably already suspects drunk driving and is looking to confirm that suspicion.

Moreover, an officer can still make an arrest or ask for a certified breath or blood test even if he or she does not perform field sobriety tests. As many Texans already know, not taking a certified breath or blood test when one is offered can lead to a license suspension or other penalties.

While it’s ingrained in our culture now that drivers who have been stopped for DWI will take field sobriety tests, it does not mean that a motorist has to take them. They may not wish to do so if they are concerned that the tests will later be used to prove that they were legally intoxicated at the time of driving.