Are Drivers Required to Submit to Field Sobriety Testing?

Our Phoenix criminal defense lawyers at Knowles Law Firm, PLC have successfully defended numerous clients throughout the region after they were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When DUI suspects reach out to our team following an arrest, they often have many questions and concerns, and we take the time to fully address them. One of the most common issues we encounter is that involving field sobriety testing.

In Arizona, motorists who are stopped or detained under suspicion of DUI are not required to take field sobriety tests. These are the physical tasks an arresting officer will ask you to perform, and they may include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, a test in which you are asked to stand on one leg, and a test involving walking a straight line and turning around, among other field exams.

Because field sobriety tests have been widely contested over the years, they are not mandatory and they do not carry much weight in your case. Here are a few important points to remember about these tests and your rights during a DUI stop in Arizona:

  • You can refuse field sobriety tests – You have the legal right to refuse field sobriety tests whenever an officer requests you to perform them. Simply say you want to exercise your right to refuse the tests. If an officer has probable cause to believe you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can still arrest you and ask you to take chemical tests.
  • Sobriety tests are not a good indication of impairment – The primary reason to refuse field sobriety tests is that they are not a solid, objective measurement of a person’s impairment. The tests can be impacted by many factors, and officers can misinterpret results. They simply provide officers with more time to gather the sufficient legal grounds to suspect you of impairment, which can lead to further tests and arrests.
  • Certain factors can affect how you perform on tests – Weather and roadway conditions can affect the results of field sobriety tests, including high winds, rain and slick surfaces, and uneven roads. Additionally, certain medical conditions and physical injuries or impairments can impact how you perform on the tests. An officer might think you are impaired when you simply cannot perform the task, sober or otherwise. These are additional reasons why these tests are unreliable.
  • You can refuse field breath tests – After you perform or have been asked to take field sobriety tests, officers may then ask you to take a roadside breath test to determine if you have any alcohol in your system. You are allowed to refuse preliminary breath tests using a roadside device, and will likely be asked to take a chemical test at a local police station or jail. You cannot refuse these secondary chemical tests without facing automatic penalties to your driver’s license, which is why it is generally advised that you do take the second chemical test when asked.

The best and most important thing you should do after a DUI arrest – whether you took, passed, refused, or failed field sobriety testing – is to contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. By taking immediate action, our lawyers will have the time needed to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest, determine how we can challenge any evidence the government has against you, and work toward securing the best possible results.

If you contact us immediately after an arrest, you also enable our team to request an administrative hearing regarding your driver’s license suspension and create strategies that help you fight to protect your driving privileges. You have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request this hearing.

Arrested for DUI? Call Knowles Law Firm, PLC for a FREE consultation.

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