Can I refuse to take a field sobriety test in New York?

When you’re pulled over for a traffic stop on suspicion of driving while under the influence (DUI), you must know your rights. In most cases, the police will ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. New York enforces “implied consent laws,” which causes many drivers to wonder whether they can refuse a field sobriety test. Please continue reading to learn about the potential consequences of refusing to perform these tests and how a skilled Rockland County DUI Attorney can help you today. 

What is a field sobriety test?

A field sobriety test is an assessment that helps determine if an individual has been driving while intoxicated. Law enforcement officers who suspect a driver is impaired can pull them to the side of the road and ask them to exit the vehicle. From here, they can request that the driver perform various tasks to measure if their driver has the physical and mental proficiency to operate a vehicle. These tests test a driver’s coordination, balance, reflexes, and overall cognitive functioning.

In addition, they are used to determine if there is probable cause to administer a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer. In New York, law enforcement officers use field sobriety tests known as coordination tests that involve three different examinations, including finger to nose, one-leg stand, and the walk and turn. Failure of these tests can indicate that the driver is intoxicated. Nevertheless, while these tests may not definitively prove intoxication, they are a good indication that a police officer should investigate further to determine whether the driver is guilty of DUI.

What will happen if I refuse this test in New York?

In New York, drivers are subject to specific laws when they receive their license, including “implied consent.” Under this law, once a driver accepts the privilege of driving automatically agrees to submit to a chemical test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, implied consent does not apply to field sobriety tests. New York drivers have no legal obligation to take these tests. Therefore, a police officer cannot force you to perform these tests. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you will face the automatic suspension of your license for a year. However, this is the case if you refuse to take a field sobriety test. You will not face any penalties. If you decide to decline to take a field sobriety test, make sure that you are polite. It’s vital to avoid confrontation when interacting with the police.

Nevertheless, it’s imperative to note that while these tests are voluntary, the prosecution can use this refusal against you in court. They can argue that it shows a “consciousness of guilt.” Essentially, this means that the prosecutor can claim that you refused to submit. You because you knew you were going to fail the tests because you knew you were intoxicated. If you know that you are innocent, participating in a field sobriety test can help you defend yourself against any subsequent DUI charges.

If you’re facing criminal charges for DUI, please don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney from The Law Office of Carl Spector, who can help you fight to protect your future.