What happens if you decline to submit to field sobriety tests?

| Dec 31, 2017 | Field Sobriety Tests

When most people are pulled over by a law enforcement officer for suspicion of DUI, their impulse is to submit to any field sobriety tests and preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, such as a Breathalyzer, that officers ask them to take.

Many drunk drivers don’t even realize, because their judgment is impaired, that they have had as much to drink as they have. They think that they’ll pass the tests with flying colors. That’s when they discover what the police already suspect — that they are under the influence.

What if you do realize that you likely won’t pass any of these tests? Can you refuse them? What are the consequences if you do?

Laws vary by state regarding drivers’ legal obligation to submit to these tests. Maryland has what are called “implied consent” laws. When people obtain their driver’s licenses, they agree to submit to these tests if an officer tells them to.

However, officers can’t arrest you solely for refusing to submit to these tests — assuming that you do so politely and not belligerently. What they can do is confiscate your driver’s license, and that license can then be suspended.

It’s important to realize that even if you refuse to submit to the field sobriety tests and/or a PAS test, officers can still arrest you if they see enough evidence that you are intoxicated or impaired by drugs. Officers may also view refusals to submit to sobriety tests as evidence that a driver has been drinking. However, they won’t have field sobriety test results to be used as evidence against you.

The bottom line is that it’s never wise to drive if you have been drinking, no matter how unimpaired you may think you are. There are no good outcomes. Even if there’s not enough evidence for a conviction, dealing with the court system is nothing anyone wants to do if they don’t have to.

If you are arrested for a DUI, whether you took or refused sobriety tests, it’s wise to seek the guidance of an experienced Maryland DUI attorney who can work to ensure that your rights are protected.

Source: FindLaw, “Can I Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests?,” accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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