Can Police Force You to Take a Field Sobriety Test?

A night out on the town can quickly deteriorate if you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI.  A field sobriety test is a common method employed by law enforcement to help determine if you have been drinking.  Even if you haven’t been drinking or are sure you are not over the legal limit if police suspect you of drinking you may be asked to complete a test.  This leaves many worried and wondering if they can be forced to take a field sobriety test. The good news is law enforcement cannot legally force you to take a field sobriety test of any kind.

Field Sobriety Tests Explained

If you are asked by law enforcement to take a field sobriety test and do not feel comfortable taking it for any reason, you have the right to refuse without repercussion.  Typically, Colorado police utilize one of three field sobriety tests which include a one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus, or a walk and turn. Arguably, even if you were not drinking at all, you may fail to pass one of these tests if you struggle with balance or coordination.  Thus, many are rightly concerned that such a test could make them appear guilty when they are not.

A police officer may badger you aggressively to agree to one of the tests.  This is one way to garner evidence or probable cause that you were indeed driving drunk; hence, law enforcement will pressure you heavily to take a test.

No matter how hard they try to press you, don’t back down.  Stand firm in your legal right to abstain from taking a field sobriety test.  If the officer has not been able to gain any other indication of guilt, you should be free to go.

If you find yourself in this situation, it will be important that you handle yourself in an appropriate manner.  Remain calm and respectful, being a matter of fact that you will not take a field sobriety test. It is not necessary to provide any additional information as it could potentially be used against you if you do end up arrested for DUI.  

Additionally, exercise your right to remain silent.  Do not incriminate yourself by speaking, but simply stay silent if you are questioned.  If law enforcement attempts to press you further, continue in silence or state that you are aware of your right to remain silent.  Legally, you will be required to provide officers with your registration and license, but that is as far as your obligation goes.

Don’t Be Tricked by Implied Consent

Law enforcement will often try to pull a sneaky tactic to bully you into taking a field sobriety test.  They will pull out the Colorado implied consent laws and tell you that you must comply with sobriety tests.  While this is true, field sobriety tests are not included under the umbrella of chemical sobriety tests, which is the only type of sobriety testing the implied consent laws apply to.

It is important to know your rights!  Don’t let a police officer badger you into taking a test that you are not legally required to take.  Always remain respectful, but firm. If you are charged unfairly contact a DUI attorney right away!