If you have been pulled over by the police and they suspect that you may be under the influence of alcohol or another illegal substance, they may request that you step out of the vehicle and perform what’s known as a field sobriety test. Regardless of whether or not you’re over the legal limit, you may wonder if you have the right to refuse to comply with this request to participate in roadside sobriety testing. In today’s blog, we explain if you are legally allowed to refuse a request for roadside sobriety tests.
Can I Refuse Roadside Sobriety Tests?
In short, the answer is yes, you absolutely can refuse to submit to roadside sobriety tests. With that said, that decision can come with additional consequences that you’ll want to consider before you make a decision.
Drivers in Minnesota are subjected to what’s known as implied consent. We’ve talked about implied consent a number of times on this blog in the past, but essentially it means that the privilege of driving on the roads comes with the understanding that you will consent to chemical testing for the presence of alcohol if police have reasonable suspicion that you may be under the influence of alcohol. You can refuse to submit to this chemical testing or roadside sobriety tests, but because of the implied consent law, refusal to submit is considered a crime in and of itself. If you refuse to submit to a roadside sobriety test, you will be charged with an implied consent violation, and you still may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Knowing this, many people assume that it is always in their best interest to submit to roadside sobriety testing, but that’s not true in every case either. For example, if you are absolutely certain that you will blow above the legal limit or above a 0.16 (which will trigger additional enhanced DUI penalties), it may be in your best interest to refuse to submit to chemical testing to avoid giving police very credible evidence to use against you at trial. You may be able to avoid an enhanced DUI charge or a conviction altogether because you did not give police substantial evidence to use against you in court.
Again, that’s not to say that this is always the right choice, even if you expect to blow over the legal limit, but the point is that there is never always one correct answer as to whether you should always complete roadside sobriety testing or always refuse it. However, there are two things you’ll always want to remember should you find yourself in a position where you are being asked to complete roadside sobriety testing:
- Refusal to comply is a crime in and of itself; and
- You are legally allowed to consult with a lawyer prior to making a decision
A driver is legally allowed to contact a lawyer when the interaction with an officer reaches what’s known as a “critical point,” and while the specifics of what constitutes a critical point may be open to interpretation, it is generally accepted that the interaction has reached a critical point when the officer is requesting that a driver submit to evidentiary collection.
At this point, ask for a moment to contact a lawyer, call your criminal defense lawyer or Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm at (952) 224-2277 and get some individualized input on our situation. They may advise you to participate, to refuse, or they may simply go into greater detail about the potential outcomes of each choice, but you are allowed to have access to this information before you submit to roadside testing.
So if you find yourself being asked to participate in roadside testing, pick up the phone, talk to Avery and learn more about what’s ahead and the best steps you can take for your case. And if you’ve been charged with a DUI and need legal help fighting the charges in court, let Appelman Law Firm go to battle for you. For more information, reach out for a free case evaluation at (952) 224-2277.