The Truth About Field Sobriety Tests – Stopped for a DUI

Police cars depicting The Truth About Field Sobriety Tests - Stopped for a DUI

Do you have to take a field sobriety test if you are stopped for a suspected DUI in Michigan? What should you do?

In a previous post, I covered what you should do if you get pulled over for a suspected DUI. My advice isn’t to take the place of legal advice given to you by your attorney. You should absolutely contact a competent attorney immediately in this event.

Many people are too anxious and inexperienced with the criminal justice system to act appropriately when they get pulled over. However, there are simple steps you can take to help yourself when you get pulled over.

This post will cover all the tests you may be asked to take, and which ones you can safely refuse, as this can be confusing.

The Truth About Field Sobriety Tests

Did you know you can refuse a field sobriety test? You can, and should, refuse a field sobriety test.

People wrongly assume, all the time, that a field sobriety test will work in their favor. They even try to go the extra mile by not only walking on the line but doing cartwheels on the line.

This will not prove anything to the officer.

All a field sobriety test does is to give the officer more evidence that can be used against you in court. It’s an unscientific test, and it provides the officer with even more scope for his subjective report against you.

All you need to do, when asked to perform a field sobriety test, is say “I’m sorry officer, but I’ve been advised not to perform a field sobriety test.”  

You may have your driver’s license suspended if you refuse. Just keep in mind that it’s a much bigger deal to be facing jail time because of the officer’s testimony against you than it is to work to get your driver’s license back.

You Can Refuse the Roadside Breathalyzer Test

Don’t confuse the handheld breathalyzer test with the chemical breath test at the police station. A roadside breathalyzer test is unreliable, and you are not required to submit to this test.

Regardless of what the officer tells you, it’s best for you not to take any roadside tests, as they are not scientific measurements of your impairment. However, the test will give the officer more subjective reason to arrest you.

Of course, you may be detained or have your license suspended for refusing the roadside test.

What Happens If You Are Arrested

If you do get arrested and taken into police custody, it’s essential that you remain calm and respectful. You can quickly be charged with resisting arrest, among other things, if you don’t.

Once you are in police custody, you are legally obligated to submit to a chemical test. This will be administered as a blood test or a breath test at the police station. It will be the officer’s choice which test will be administered.

The breath test at the police station is more sophisticated than a handheld breathalyzer. However, its results are less reliable than a blood test, so defense lawyers can often argue against their validity in court.

Write Down Everything You Remember & Contact an Attorney Right Away

One way you can help yourself is by writing down everything you can remember about your arrest as soon as you are able. You would be surprised by what memories fade or get confused and how quickly. The more information you have to give your lawyer, the more she can help you.

Here’s a list of things to try to remember:

  • Where you were, what you were doing and who you were with before you drove.
  • What and how much you had had to drink before you drove.
  • The length of time between when you drank and when you were pulled over.
  • What the officer said and how he behaved toward you.
  • Anything you said to the officer and how you responded to him.
  • Where you were pulled over.
  • If you were read your Miranda rights and when.
  • If you took the chemical test, and when.
  • The length of time between when you drank and when you took the chemical test.
  • Any other detail you can think of even if you don’t believe it is important at the time – like what clothes you were wearing.

The Best Thing You Can Do

Getting pulled over for a DUI is a stressful event. If you remember nothing else, remember to be respectful and to contact a defense attorney right away.

If you can remain calm and remember to follow these instructions before you contact an attorney, you have a much better chance if you end up being arrested and charged with a crime.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to hire an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Although the police officer may speak as though he was on your side, everything that happens to you is meant to collect evidence against you.

If you’re facing an OWI or OWVI in the Detroit area, contact my office today.

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