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Can you refuse to take a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2023 | Drunk Driving Charges

If you find yourself in the midst of a traffic stop and asked to take a field sobriety test, you need to know your rights. Many drivers are left unsure about whether they can refuse such tests or if it would make their situation worse. 

In Maryland, as in all states, you can refuse to take a field sobriety test if an officer asks you to do so. This is because they are voluntary and not required by law. 

What are field sobriety tests?

If you get pulled over in Maryland on suspicion of driving under the influence, the officer may require you to take a field sobriety test. This is a series of tests designed to help the officer determine whether or not you have been drinking and determine if intoxication is causing your behavior or motor skills to be impaired. 

The test may involve standing on one leg for a certain amount of time (One Leg Stand Test), being asked to follow a pen with your eyes as the officer moves it from side to side (HGN Test), being asked to walk in a straight line and do a pivot turn exactly how the officer shows you (Walk and Turn Test), being asked about your name and address, counting backward from a certain number, or moving specific body parts when instructed by the officer.

You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. Depending on the circumstances, the police officer may still arrest you if they feel they have probable cause. If so, they are supposed to advise you of your Miranda rights before requesting you to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood test) to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Under Maryland’s implied consent laws, you are required to take a BAC test, and refusal to do so will result in an automatic 270-day revocation of your driver’s license, it could also be brought up in court.

If a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of driving while under the influence, it’s important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. A field sobriety test is subjective and you have the right to refuse an officer’s request to take one. If you are arrested anyhow, it is imperative that you know your legal options.