Can You Refuse Field Sobriety Tests? What Are The Consequences?
Interviewer: Okay. I know there are some other ones that I’ve heard of, too, like picking up the coins from the ground and a few others, but let me ask you that. Are people obligated to take these tests?
Adam Hunt: Under Ohio law, you technically are because if the officers have some type of probable cause, refusal in Ohio carries harsher penalties than a first-offense OVI. Since driving’s not a right but a privilege granted by the state, they’re more than within grounds to get their license forfeiture and make people basically comply on that premise.
Interviewer: Right. If someone were to refuse this, what are going to be the consequences of that?
Adam Hunt: Refusing a field sobriety test probably isn’t necessarily as bad as once they get you back because they would, at that time, place you under arrest for suspicion, take you back, and offer you the opportunity to take the actual Breathalyzer test, not the portable one. Then that’s probably a bigger issue, refusing there.
Interviewer: One of the situations that I know I’m not going to do well in is I have a hard time saying the alphabet backwards as it is right now, but can I say, “I just want to refuse this, but whatever test you need to provide for me I’ll do”? Would that be detrimental to the person’s case?
Adam Hunt: I don’t think it would interfere as long as they agree to take whatever test was going to be administered – whether it’s blood, urine, or a Breathalyzer at the actual station – because there are people out there that have medical conditions, knee surgery or whatever, and they can’t stand on one foot.
Interviewer: Yeah. That would be the case with myself. I’ve got a busted ACL. If I were ever to be put in a situation, I would probably ask to not do that because I know I wouldn’t be able to perform as well. Are there any ground rules or anything like that for people that may have certain conditions, like certain age groups or if someone’s very overweight?
Adam Hunt: Those things can probably come in subsequently. Either you’re having a trial or you’re trying to justify why they performed poorly. Typically it’s up to some degree in the field at least for the officer just to understand that explanation if it’s safe.
By: Adam Hunt