Pittsburgh DUI Testing: Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?
People are pulled over by the Pittsburgh police or Pennsylvania State Troopers everyday for suspicion of a DUI. These people are frequently asked to take field sobriety tests. And while the officers will suggest your consent is required, you are in fact not legally bound to stand on one leg or submit to other DUI field tests.
If you were arrested after refusing a DUI test in Pittsburgh or anywhere in Allegheny County, contact the (412) 281-2146 24/7 for a free consultation.
Implied Consent & PA DUI Testing
According to Pennsylvania implied consent laws, you must consent to a chemical blood alcohol test if a police officer arrests you for a DUI.
Types of DUI Field Sobriety Tests
These DUI tests measure your mental and physical abilities, like how well you follow directions and reveal indications of impairment
You may be asked to :
- Walk heel-to-toe and turn around and walk back
- Stand on one leg
- Follow an object, like a pen, with your eyes
Police will use your performance to help establish if you should be arrested and required to take a chemical test.
Are Field Sobriety Tests Mandatory?
Field sobriety tests are not chemical tests, therefore they are much less reliable. The only tests required by law are breath, blood, or urine tests.
You also cannot be prosecuted for refusing a field sobriety test by an officer.
DUI Field Tests & Probable Cause
Field sobriety tests are subjective and not scientific by nature. The officers at a DUI stop usually have already decided that you are under the influence when they request that you to take a field sobriety test, so you most likely will fail.
This failure gives the police officer the probable cause they need to make an official DUI arrest. Otherwise, you would then have to submit to a chemical test or face the consequences of an official refusal under implied consent laws. Usually, refusing a chemical test after an arrest will lead to you losing your driver’s license for a year.
However, if you refuse a field sobriety test, it cannot be used as probable cause. They will have to consider other factors before arresting you.
For instance, self-incriminating responses to questions, like where you are coming from, the odor of alcohol, and hostile behavior could be all be used to establish probable cause for arrest. But, these factors are not as useful as a failed field sobriety test.
Field Sobritey Tests & the 5th Amendment
Furthermore, since you have a Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate yourself when asked any questions about your activities earlier in the evening like “Where have you been?” and “Have you been drinking tonight?” you have the right to politely refuse to answer.
Consequences of Refusing DUI Tests
In theory, there should be no negative consequences for refusing a field sobriety test, so long as you decline the test politely. Police cannot suspend your license, nor can they force you to take the test.
In some cases, if you are arrested and the DUI case goes to court, the prosecutor may use your refusal as evidence that you already knew of your guilt. But this is not necessarily a reason to worry too much about refusing the field sobriety test.
What about Chemical Tests?
Legally, you also have the right to refuse a chemical/blood alcohol test after an arrest. The Supreme Court established in Missouri v. McNeely that it was unconstitutional to demand a blood sample from a person arrested for a DUI without a warrant. However, this does not make you immune to the consequences under implied consent laws. Driving is a privilege under the law, so you can still lose your license for a year.
Generally, you are risking serious penalties by refusing a chemical DUI test, but you risk nothing by declining a field sobriety test. You are perfectly within your rights to refuse a field sobriety test. Do not let police officers tell you otherwise.
Speak with a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer to Protect Yourself
Even if you submitted to a field sobriety test or chemical test and were arrested in Pittsburgh for a DUI, there is a lot an experienced lawyer can do. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, we have had tremendous success highlighting the flaws in these tests and using it to have the DUI penalties drastically reduced or completely dismissed.
No matter your specific situation, contact us today to discuss how to deal with a DUI the right way. Call (412) 281-2146 24/7 for a free consultation.