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Field sobriety testing — do I have to comply?

| Mar 15, 2020 | Firm News

Imagine this. You are driving home from a night on the town when, all of a sudden, an Illinois police officer is pulling you over. After a quick talk with the officer, he or she asks you to participate in field sobriety testing. What exactly does that mean, and do you have to comply?

Whether you choose to comply is up to you. Yes, you can refuse. Not many people know that. However, there are consequences for doing so. You have to weigh the pros and cons and do what you think is best for you.

The standard field sobriety tests

There are three standard field sobriety tests used by law enforcement officers in Illinois. They are:

  • The walk and turn
  • The one-leg stand
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus

The first two on the list, the walk and turn and the one-leg stand, are to check your ability to balance, pay attention and follow directions. The last one on the list, the HGN, is to check your eyes for signs of impairment. Failure to complete the tests as ordered may result in your arrest and a DUI charge.

Chemical testing

Along with the physical tests are the chemical sobriety tests. The two generally used are breath testing and blood testing. Breath test administration can happen roadside or at a police station, while blood tests typically occur at a hospital. You may refuse both forms of chemical testing. However, if police obtain a warrant, then you have to comply.

If you refuse

The consequences of refusing include arrest and the temporary loss of driving privileges. Both of these things can negatively impact your life in a number of ways. However, with the right assistance, you can have your license restored as quickly as possible, and you can take steps to fight the criminal charges filed against you.

Do what you feel is best

Refusing is by no means admitting guilt. It is just you exercising your right to say no.

Unless police have a warrant for sobriety testing, they cannot force you to comply. If you do choose to participate in testing, know that you run the risk of failing, and prosecuting attorneys can use those test results against you in court. These tests are not 100% accurate. False positives happen more often than you might think, but proving that test results are flawed can be an uphill battle. Regardless of whether you refuse or comply, you can get through criminal and administrative hearings with help, achieving the best possible outcome.