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Do I have to take field sobriety tests if asked?

A previous post on this blog talked about what could happen to a Leesburg, Virginia, resident if he or she refuses to take an official breath or blood test after an officer conducts a valid DUI stop and asks them to take this test. Basically, a person can wind up with a very lengthy license suspension, even if he or she ultimately does not get convicted of or even wind up facing drunk driving charges.

Virginia police also use other tools to help them decide whether a driver on one of Virginia’s roads is legally intoxicated and, thus, in violation of Virginia’s drunk driving laws. One such tool is a series of field sobriety tests, with which many people are already familiar.

While the idea behind these tests is that only a sober person can pass them, many people have justified fears that they aren’t really accurate when it comes to determining whether a person had too much alcohol to drive safely. As such, many people might not want to take these tests, especially if they have some medical or physical reason to believe they will not do well on them.

The good news is that Virginia residents have no obligation to take field sobriety tests, and police really cannot do anything to force the issue. While an officer might be upset by or even suspicious of a person’s refusal to take a field sobriety tests, the officer cannot impose consequences on a person for refusing.

As a word of warning, though, refusing to take field sobriety tests does not mean the officer will not arrest a person for drunk driving or legally demand a certified blood or breath test. Even without the field sobriety tests, an officer can still rely on clues like the look in a person’s eyes or the smell of alcohol on their breath.

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