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Are you required to take a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If an Alabama police officer suspects you of drunk driving and pulls you over, he or she will likely ask you to take a field sobriety test.

While these tests are a standard evaluation across the country, studies show that the testing methods are problematic and notoriously inaccurate.

Refusing a field sobriety test

Even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of 0.08 at the time of your traffic stop, there may be several reasons a field test could be disadvantageous in your case:

  • The test is subjective to the officer performing the assessment, and a passing score for one officer may be a failure for another
  • Uncontrollable factors such as anxiety, traffic, weather and terrain can affect the outcome of the test
  • Some physical or medical conditions can lead to balance issues, slurred speech or eye movement that can cause you to fail a field sobriety test

Field testing is voluntary, and as a driver in Alabama, you have the right to decline to participate.

Penalties of declining a field sobriety test

If you refuse a field test, there are no direct consequences. However, the investigating officer will likely ask you to exhale into an ethanol-measuring device as an alternative. Under Alabama law, refusing to submit to a breath test results in a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

If law enforcement accuses, arrests and charges you, you are not out of options. It is important to exercise your rights and document your experience in order to build a strong DUI defense.