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You can politely say 'No' to field sobriety tests

You may be like other New York residents who feel as though they can't say "no" to a police officer. It is true that you can't refuse some of an officer's requests, such as to exit your vehicle, but there are some requests with which you don't have to comply, such as participating in field sobriety tests.

More than likely, the officer will attempt to convince you that you should participate in these tests. The officer may try to make it seem as though you do not have a choice, but just remember that it's voluntary. As long as you remain calm and polite, you may want to continue to let the officer know that you will not take part in field sobriety tests.

Why don't they tell you it is voluntary?

The simple answer to that question is that it makes a police officer's job easier if you submit to field sobriety tests. The subjectivity of these tests means that many people "fail" them due — at least in part — to an officer's preconceived notion that you are impaired. Otherwise, he or she wouldn't have asked you to participate in the testing.

Officers require probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Field sobriety tests help to establish that requirement. The results often depend on the subjectivity of the officer. Unless you tell the officer that you suffer from some physical ailment that could affect your ability to successfully complete the testing, he or she will probably not ask. In fact, if you do have a condition that you believe would prevent you from "passing" the tests, you should refuse to participate in them.

You don't have to prove your innocence

No matter how much you want to prove to the officer that you aren't impaired, it may be better for you in the long run to keep your resolve and not participate in field sobriety tests. The officer may make it seem as though you are guilty if you don't take the tests, but you don't have to buy into that argument. It is up to prosecutors to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

At this point, you may decide that the advice of an attorney might be beneficial. Regardless of the time of day, you may tell the officer that you would like to contact an attorney before going any further in the process. Even if the officer fails to grant that request and places you under arrest for DUI, before speaking to anyone, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney.

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Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C.
471 Main Street
East Aurora, NY 14052

Phone: 716-243-3515
Fax: 716-652-2058
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