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Should I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

When a driver is pulled over for suspected DUI in Florida, they are legally compelled to submit to chemical testing of their blood alcohol content (BAC) under the state's implied consent laws. Refusing to take a chemical test will result in the immediate suspension of the driver's license, regardless of their sobriety.

However, the obligation to submit to chemical testing is often confused with field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are exams conducted by law enforcement on the scene that assess the driver's physical coordination to expose signs of intoxication.

Under Florida law, there are no statutes that require drivers to submit to field sobriety testing. Many drivers submit to field sobriety tests without knowing their rights, and because many times these tests videotaped, this evidence can have a huge impact on their DUI cases.

Should a Florida driver refuse a field sobriety test?

This question often poses a dilemma for drivers. On one hand, field sobriety tests are used to help officers identify signs of intoxication—and the refusal to submit to testing may signal to the officer that you have something to hide. On the other hand, there are numerous factors that can negatively impact the results of a field sobriety test regardless of your level of intoxication, so you could potentially fail the test even if you are completely sober.

Field sobriety tests are totally subjective and there are a variety of other factors that could impact your performance on the test and lead to "false positives." Factors that can affect your ability to perform field sobriety tests include:

  • Preexisting medical conditions or injuries
  • Driver fatigue
  • Clothing that limits mobility
  • Fear or nervousness
  • Slippery pavement that makes it difficult to walk
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic sounds that makes the officer hard to hear
  • Language barriers between officer and driver

If you have a concern about any of these factors prior to a field sobriety test, then it is best to voice them to the officer. Ultimately in this scenario, it is the officer who is under the most scrutiny and must carefully proceed to not invalidate the legality of the stop. Being open and honest with the officer will lead to the best possible results of a DUI stop, and will inform them whether or not a field sobriety test is appropriate.

If you have been charged with a DUI and are concerned with your field sobriety test—or believe your arresting officer was dishonest with you concerning your test—then we invite you to call our skilled Miami-Dade DUI lawyers.

Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation today.