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Do you have to take a field sobriety test?

When you were taking driver’s education, your instructor likely told you that you needed to submit to a breathalyzer test if law enforcement stops you for drunk driving. Many people erroneously believe this. The reason that people comply with these tests is that they believe that refusing a field sobriety test is the law.

However, New York law does not require you to submit to a field sobriety tests. The law only requires you to take Here are some reasons why you should refuse a field sobriety test and insist on a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content:

  • Field sobriety tests are subjective. Do you know what it looks like when someone sways or smooth eye movement is? You may think you have an idea, but these actions may look different to someone else. Why risk an arrest because of someone’s interpretation of your movements?
  • Confirmation bias is in play. An officer can use a field sobriety test to find anything to affirm their belief that you’ve had too much to drink. Finding drunk drivers is their job, but it’s important not to let even an innocent misstep during a field sobriety test land you in jail.

It’s especially important to refuse the field sobriety test if you haven’t had anything to drink. Poor balance or coordination and nervous stammering while speaking could lead an officer to believe you’re under the influence.

What to do instead

While this may seem like a hassle, fighting for your innocence after a false DUI accusation is a bigger hassle. In addition to refusing a field sobriety test, you may refuse a breathalyzer and refuse to provide hair and urine samples. Instead, you should insist on only taking a blood test to determine your blood alcohol content.

A blood test is the only test the law requires you to take. Refusing this test is a terrible idea. Penalties for refusing a test the first time are a one-year suspension of your license and a $500 fine. Refusing a blood test a second time will lead to an 18-month suspension of your license and a $750 fine. That’s why it’s important to take the blood test.

By refusing a field sobriety test and insisting on a blood test, you insist on an accurate measure of your blood alcohol content. Having a false DUI accusation can cost you time and money contesting it, but a blood test can clear your name.

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