There are few things worse than seeing the police lights in your rear view mirror. It is important to know what your rights are before you are ever pulled over. One of the biggest questions many drivers have is whether they are legally required to take a sobriety test when a police officer pulls them over for suspicion of driving drunk. This guide will go over the simple answer to this complicated question.
Whether a Sobriety Test Is Required
A sobriety test is almost never legally required. In nearly all cases, you are completely within your rights to politely decline to take the test. This includes all kinds of sobriety tests, including the breathalyzer, urine tests, and challenges of mental or physical aptitude. A police officer cannot force you to take a sobriety test.
While you are allowed to decline a sobriety test, it is also in your best interest not to take the test. A police officer cannot arrest you unless he or she has probable cause. Without hard evidence, an arrest cannot be made. If a police officer already had probable cause, he or she would not ask you to take a test and would simply arrest you. The results of a sobriety test do count as probable cause. Essentially, the police officer is fishing for something to make an arrest possible. The results of a sobriety test can prove your guilt, but it cannot prove your innocence, so you should not take it.
When a Sobriety Test Is Required
There are exactly three situations where you could be legally required to take a sobriety test. These situations are very rare, but it is important to know them so you can recognize when you do not have a choice. These situations are:
- When you are under the legal drinking age.
- When you are on probation for a DUI.
- When you have already been arrested.
If a police officer arrests you, do not resist the arrest or refuse to take a sobriety test. An officer cannot arrest you prior to finding probable cause. If the sobriety test taken after arrest proves that you were driving under the influence of alcohol, then you cannot be convicted from the ill-gotten evidence. However, resisting arrest is a separate crime, and you can be convicted of it even if the arrest was unwarranted. That is why you should always cooperate, even when your rights are being violated. If you think your rights have been violated, speak with a DUI attorney immediately.