Pulled over for drunk driving? Know what’s required
One question I hear many people ask is “Can I refuse to take field sobriety tests when pulled over for drunk driving?” Here in Pennsylvania, you absolutely have the right to refuse to perform sobriety tests. However, it is important that you know that you can still be arrested for drunk driving whether you refuse or not. A police officer’s duty is to consider probable cause for the DUI arrest. Probable cause can be found upon failure of a field sobriety test, but it can also be found other ways. A police officer can use your vehement refusal against you as probable cause and, if you are found guilty, can also use your refusal to persuade a judge and jury if the case goes to trial. But it is important to understand that you are not required by law to submit to a test.
If you know that you are not over the legal limit, but end up failing a test, you can be arrested on the spot. Remember, a field sobriety test is not like a chemical test. If you refuse a field sobriety test, the officer may tell the judge, but that doesn’t mean that the judge will be any more or less lenient on you. If you refuse a chemical test and are found guilty, there are automatic consequences that are added to your sentencing. Law enforcement will generally use two tricks to attempt to convince you that you are required to perform a field sobriety test. The first is telling you that there is a statement on your license which says you must submit to any sobriety test that is required by PA law. However, standard field sobriety tests are not required by PA law. The second thing they will tell you is that if you refuse, your refusal can be used against you in a court of law.
While this is true, know that most DUI cases do not go to trial, especially with a quality Pittsburgh DUI defense attorney like Gary Gerson advocating for you. So remember, general field sobriety tests are not required to be completed by law. If you are told to take a Breathalyzer, or you are asked to urinate or give blood, it is best that you comply because these are state-mandated tests and your refusal to submit will get you into even deeper trouble if you are found guilty. Unfortunately, many police officers have likely made up their minds about arresting you well before they ask you to perform field sobriety tests. One slip-up during your test performance could put the officer over the edge and be just the probable cause for which he or she was looking.
If you know you’re not over the limit, don’t let an overambitious cop put you at risk for being arrested. Assess your situation and disregard their scare tactics if need be. But also remember that even if you do refuse field sobriety testing, you can be arrested. If you have any more questions about driving under the influence, you can check out our other drunk driving blogs, or you can give us a call at 412-219-6875. Don’t drink and drive, but if you do make a mistake, you will need quality representation to protect your rights. Call The Law Offices of Gary E. Gerson today.