Do I Have to Take the Field Sobriety Tests?
By Jonathan Blecher on February 21, 2018
When you’re pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and the officer suspects that you have been drinking, usually, he or she will ask you to perform the standardized field sobriety tests and if you don’t do well on those, next you’ll be asked to submit to a chemical test, usually in the form of a breath or blood test.
Do you have to say “yes” to the field sobriety tests? Do you have to say “yes” to the chemical test? While these two tests are used by law enforcement to gain probable cause to make a DUI arrest, the consequences of refusing these tests are NOT the same.
Here is what you need to know:
- If you politely refuse the field sobriety tests, there is NO statutory penalty for refusing.
- If you refuse to submit to a chemical test in the form of a blood, breath, or urine test, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for one year upon a first refusal. It will be suspended for 18 months upon a second refusal, under Florida DUI law.
Let’s take a closer look at Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. According to AAA, “The Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) is a battery of 3 tests performed during a traffic stop in order to determine if a driver is impaired.” AAA continues, “The 3 tests that make up the SFST are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand tests.” The evidence obtained from these tests is admissible in court.
Often, an officer will tell a driver that the roadside sobriety exercises are mandatory, which is not the law. Or, they will tell the driver that the refusing them will result in a license suspension…also not the law. And other officers tell drivers that the tests are free and voluntary, without penalty if they refuse.
Since there is no statutory penalty for refusing the field sobriety tests, why give the state more ammunition against you? These tests may be “scientifically validated,” but they are highly subjective and difficult even for a sober person to pass.
Florida’s Implied Consent Law
Under Sec. 316.1932 of the Florida Statutes, when you accept a Florida driver’s license, you’re consenting to submit to a chemical test if you’re arrested for DUI or being under actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re asked to take such a test during a DUI stop and you refuse, your license will be suspended for one year, even if you had nothing to drink!
To learn more about Florida’s implied consent law under Section 316.1932 of the Florida Statutes, click here.