Can a New York driver refuse to take a field sobriety test?



    traffic stop

    When the police pull you over, it’s vital to understand your rights to ensure they’re not violated at any point. If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to suspect you are driving while under the influence (DUI), they will request that you submit to a field sobriety test. Police use field sobriety tests as an assessment to determine if a driver is impaired. While you can refuse a field sobriety test in New York, doing so can negatively impact your case. Please continue reading to learn what could happen if you refuse a field sobriety test and how a determined Nassau County DUI/DWI Lawyer can fight for you today. 

    What is a field sobriety test?

    A field sobriety test is a method that is often utilized by law enforcement to evaluate whether an individual has been operating a vehicle while intoxicated. When an officer has probable cause that a driver is drunk, they will direct the driver to pull over and exit the vehicle. Subsequently, the driver will be asked to submit to a field sobriety test, where they will undergo a series of assessments that gauge their physical and cognitive aptitude to operate a motor vehicle safely.

    These evaluations typically involve tasks that measure balance, hand-eye coordination, and multitasking, such as standing on a single leg, standing straight while placing one’s finger on their nose, or walking in a straight line. The failure to perform such tasks can indicate that a driver is impaired. However, failure of these tests does not definitively prove intoxication; it’s a reliable indicator that further investigation is necessary. This typically involves requiring the driver to undergo a chemical or breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

    What happens if I refuse to submit to this test in New York?

    When a driver receives a license in New York, they are subject to specific laws. This includes “implied consent law.” According to this law, once drivers accept the privilege of driving, they consent to submit to lawful requests to submit to a chemical test to determine their BAC. Refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test, for instance, can result in the automatic suspension of a driver’s license and a fine of up to $500. These penalties are typically in addition to the DUI penalties a driver will face if convicted. However, when it comes to field sobriety tests, you can refuse to perform a field one without facing penalties. Field sobriety tests are intended to determine if there is probable cause to administer a chemical test.

    Nevertheless, refusing a field sobriety test can negatively impact your case. If you are intoxicated and you refuse to take this test, it could lead to the establishment of probable cause to administer a chemical test as it can prove “consciousness of guilt.” Essentially, this means that the prosecution can argue that you refused to submit to the test because you knew you would fail. Performing field sobriety tests can help you in some cases. For example, if you are pulled over when you aren’t intoxicated, participating in a field sobriety test can help you defend yourself against a DUI charge.

    Contact a skilled lawyer from the legal team at Grunwald & Seman, P.C., who can help you defend your rights and interests. We are prepared to fight for your future.

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