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Is Refusing To Take Field Sobriety Tests an Admission of Guilt?

police officer writing notes standing next to middle aged male driver

During a DUI stop, a police officer may ask you to take a series of field sobriety tests. These are physical tests that show your level of coordination and ability to follow directions. Officers then use your performance to make inferences about your level of impairment.

There are many reasons why a driver would not want to take these tests. But, is refusing an admission of guilt? Our attorneys at Tillotson & Martin, LLC explain how your refusal could be used against you, and if so, how you can protect yourself.

Why You Never Want to Take Field Sobriety Tests

First, we want to clarify that drivers should never take field sobriety tests. The consequences of taking the tests are frequently worse than any consequences you may face for refusing. These tests are optional, your license won’t be suspended for refusing, and refusal to take field sobriety tests does not mean that you are guilty and will be convicted.

Drivers struggle to pass these tests even when fully sober. This may be due to:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Muscle strain from a long drive
  • Uncomfortable footwear
  • Misunderstanding instructions

A number of factors can affect your performance on field sobriety tests other than alcohol or drug impairment.

If Your Refusal is Used Against You

You could still be arrested after refusing to take field sobriety tests. If this occurs, the officers/prosecutors may bring up your field sobriety test refusal to try and argue that you knew you were under the influence, you knew you would fail, and you knew you were guilty of a crime. However, this is far from true. Any informed driver can and should refuse to take these tests– regardless of their sobriety status.

You can challenge this assumption of guilt with the help of an experienced defense attorney. Together, you can work out a way to explain your reasoning for refusing the test, ultimately invalidating the claims that your refusal was an admission of guilt.

Virginia DUI Defense Attorneys

If you were charged with DUI after taking or refusing to take field sobriety tests, contact Tillotson & Martin, LLC. Our team is deeply knowledgeable about the shortcomings of these tests and we have successfully argued against the results they have produced. We have also helped drivers fight their charges after sobriety test refusal. Reach us at (757) 568-7978 and discuss your defense today.