Why it’s usually in drivers’ best interests to refuse field sobriety tests in DUI stops

Why it’s usually in drivers’ best interests to refuse field sobriety tests in DUI stops

No, drivers are not legally required to submit to field sobriety tests during traffic stops, and refusing to submit to these tests:

  • Will not trigger any automatic penalties (which is different from BAC tests)
  • Is typically in motorists’ best interests because it will limit the amount of potential evidence authorities have against this.

Explaining this answer in more depth, the following reveals some of the most important facts to be aware of when it comes to field sobriety tests in DUI stops. Keeping these facts in mind whenever you may be pulled over for suspicion of impaired driving can help you protect your rights.

Field Sobriety Tests in DUI Stops: The Facts

  • Although there are standard field sobriety tests, there are NOT requirements for which tests are administered – In other words, federal authorities1 have developed a series of standard tests that, when taken by drivers, can reveal balance, coordination and cognitive impairments that may indicate alcohol impairment. Despite the existence of these standard tests, however, traffic police have the discretion to administer nonstandard tests (like, for instance, asking drivers to recite the alphabet backwards). Such nonstandard tests can set drivers up to perform poorly, likely increasing the chances they’ll “fail.”
  • Evaluations of field sobriety tests are not necessarily objective – In fact, these evaluations are far more subjective than motorists’ may realize, as traffic officers may cite any  number of reasons as grounds for a “failure.” And once a driver has “failed” field sobriety testing:
    • (S)he has already provided authorities with evidence that may be used against him or her later to try to prove impairment.
    • The officer will likely have grounds to request chemical testing.
  • There may be various ways to challenge “failures” of field sobriety tests – This may be one of the most important facts about field sobriety testing for motorists to remember (in addition to their rights of refusal). That’s because, with the right arguments, it can be possible to undercut any “evidence” of impairment associated with field sobriety test results. Just some examples of arguments that could be used to this end include:
    • Officers’ procedural errors, such as failing to wait 20 minutes before administering field sobriety tests, administering these tests too soon after a driver has regurgitated or consumed something, etc.
    • Motorists’ medical conditions, such as cognition or balance impairments, either of which may impact drivers’ abilities to “pass” this testing in a sober state.

Need More Answers about Your Best DUI Defense Options? Contact a Broomfield DUI Lawyer at The Datz Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been accused of any type of DUI offense in Colorado, a Broomfield DUI lawyer at The Datz Law Firm is ready to provide you with superior defense representation. At The Datz Law Firm, we know how stressful and consuming serious legal problems can be. That’s why we’re here to help you resolve your legal issues, get through these challenging times and move forward into a brighter future.

To discuss your defense options, schedule an initial consultation with us today by calling (720) 879-1114 or by emailing us using the contact form at the top of this page.

Although our office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., we make ourselves available anytime of the day or night to talk about your important legal matters – or simply to discuss your worries and concerns. The bottom line is that we are flexible, available, and responsive.


1: At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)