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How might police try to talk you into a field sobriety test?

For whatever reason, a police officer pulled you over. Once he or she approached your vehicle and began talking to you, the officer may ask you to get out of your vehicle.

Something made the officer suspect you of driving impaired. Now, he or she asked you to participate in field sobriety tests. You already know that you are not legally obligated to take part in these tests, and you politely decline to do so.

The officer then tries to convince you

It is in the officer's best interest that you participate in field sobriety tests since it helps establish probable cause for an arrest. There is no law prohibiting police from lying to you in order to get information out of you or to get you to take part in these tests. The officer may use one or more of the following tactics to gain your cooperation:

  • The officer may try to convince you that if you participate, it could convince him or her that you can safely drive home.
  • The officer may say that if you decline to take part in the tests, it shows you have something to hide.
  • The officer may give you the impression that not taking the tests makes you look guilty to a jury.
  • The officer may try to make you believe that participating in the tests will show that he or she was wrong to suspect you of impairment.

It is not up to you to prove your innocence. Instead, the officer must obtain evidence that you are not innocent in order to arrest you, and you do not have to help him or her with that objective. You should know that even sober people fail these tests. Any number of factors could cause you to fail them. A medical condition, your age, the officer's bias and more could all mean you will end up under arrest if you participate.

Of course, not taking the tests does not guarantee that you will not end up under arrest. However, it does mean you are not helping the officer to do so. If you do end up potentially facing charges for drunk driving, you could face serious penalties. In addition, the situation could have an adverse effect on your personal and professional lives. It would be wise to consult with an experienced attorney right away.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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