Frank, Juengel & Radefeld, Attorneys at Law
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Are field sobriety tests accurate? Do you have to take them?

Having the police pull you over after you have had alcohol can be unsettling. The police are likely to ask a lot of questions that you may feel like you have no choice to answer. The same goes for field sobriety tests.

It is illegal to drive while intoxicated in every state, which is why the consequences are so severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016 the police arrested over one million individuals for drunk driving. When the police pull you over, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests. Is it illegal to refuse to take them?

Can you refuse to take the tests?

Yes, you can refuse the field sobriety tests. There are three parts of the test, including:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus
  • Walk and turn
  • One leg stand

You can choose to perform the tests, but it is not against the law to refuse. On the other hand, you cannot refuse chemical (blood, urine and breath) tests. Missouri is an implied consent state, which means that if police pull you over when they suspect drunk driving, you have implied your consent for chemical testing. Refusing this type of testing can lead to significant consequences.

Are the tests accurate?

The Field Sobriety Testing Resource states that police are able to figure out an individual’s blood alcohol content level when all three tests are used together is 82 percent, which still leaves a margin for error. These tests are not scientifically proven, unlike chemical testing.

Seeing flashing lights behind you after drinking is scary and can make you forget your rights. Remembering that you have the right to refuse field sobriety testing can prove beneficial.

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