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Should You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in Arizona?

December 10, 2021

No matter the circumstances, being stopped for suspicion of DUI is unnerving. Even if you don’t believe you are impaired, the prospect of taking a field sobriety test is daunting. What are your rights in this situation? Should you take a field sobriety test, or can you refuse? Here is what you need to know, so that you are ready to face these circumstances, should they happen to you.

Are field sobriety tests mandatory?

Arizona law does not require you to submit to a field sobriety test, so you are within your rights to refuse one. However, keep in mind that refusing a test could potentially have consequences, including being arrested on suspicion of DUI. Your refusal of the test may also be used against you if your case ultimately goes to trial, as the prosecutor may argue that you were not cooperative and were trying to hide your impairment. 

Does that mean I should submit to a field sobriety test?

Despite the potential consequences, criminal defense attorneys generally recommend that you refuse the test. Field sobriety tests are notoriously unreliable. Fully sober people frequently fail them because the tests are subjective and require coordination activities that are not easy for everyone. Additionally, though police officers are supposed to avoid administering these kinds of tests in poor weather, lighting, or road conditions, they often attempt to convince drivers to take the test anyway. Refusing the test protects you from being falsely accused of failing the test.

What should I do during a DUI traffic stop?

You are required by law to provide your name, driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration, but politely refuse to answer any additional questions or to take a field sobriety test. The officers may request then that you take a chemical test, like a breathalyzer or urine test. Though you can refuse a chemical test, doing so will result in your license being immediately revoked for 12 months. You should consult with a criminal defense attorney before making any decisions, but because the chemical tests are significantly more reliable, many attorneys believe they are an acceptable alternative. 

DUI convictions can have significant consequences to your livelihood and your freedom. Let Janet Altschuler ensure your rights are protected at every step of the process. As soon as you are arrested, before answering any questions, call our Tucson law office at (520) 200-5003.

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