Can I Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in PA?

In Pennsylvania, you do have the right to refuse the performance of field sobriety tests. It is important to keep in mind; however, that you can still be arrested for a DUI even if you refuse. Law enforcement looks for probable cause for the arrest, which can be obtained through the failure on field sobriety tests, but that is not the only way. In fact, oftentimes law enforcement will use your refusal to strengthen their argument for probable cause that you were driving under the influence. At the same time, do not let the officer tell you that you are required to perform these tests. Field sobriety tests do not fall under the same realm as chemical tests where you can be given consequences for refusing. There are two tricks that enforcement may use to convince you that you need to perform a test, these include:

  • A statement at the bottom of your license stating that operation of a vehicle constitutes consent to any sobriety test that is required by law.
  • Telling you that refusing the test can be used against you in Court.

In reality, yes if your case goes to trial, which is very unlikely, they can tell the jury about your refusal. That is all they can do, you can also explain to the jury why you refused. Also, it is true that your license states your consent to tests required by law. The only tests required by law are breath, blood or urine tests- field sobriety tests are not required by law. It is the unfortunate reality that officers have usually already made up their minds to arrest you for DUI when they ask you to perform field sobriety tests. They often use tactics that can result in you handing them probable cause for an arrest. Consider your options and make a decision knowing that you do not have to perform the tests, but you can still be arrested if you do not. If you have further questions, feel free to call me, Curtis E. Barnes, Attorney at Law.

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