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Refusing a field sobriety test in Pennsylvania

Many people who are caught driving under the suspicion of alcohol consumption are asked to take a field sobriety test when they are pulled over. Most are unaware that this test is voluntary, and a party is not required to consent to it. However, if a party chooses to refuse, he or she should do so respectfully. Acting aggressively or out of control gives an officer reasonable suspicion of intoxication, and therefore can lead to arrest.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the only tests that are required by law for anyone under the suspicion of drunk driving are chemical blood tests. These are breath, blood, or urine tests. Refusal of these tests is not recommended, as it can lead to suspension of a driver's license for one year. However, there are no punishments for refusing a field sobriety test. While subjective in nature anyway, field sobriety tests are rarely passed by a party who is already under the suspicion of drunk driving. They are not scientific, and once failed, give an officer reason to go ahead and arrest for DUI.

A party who is pulled over for drunk driving should take extra care to not incriminate themselves. Oftentimes, an officer will ask where someone has been, or what they were doing earlier in the night. These questions do not require a response, and a party may invoke their Fifth Amendment right by refusing to answer. Police officers have a way of making parties believe they are required by law to do whatever is asked of them. It is important to know the law, and legal rights, when determining whether to accept or refuse any type of test which may incriminate.

Anyone who has been charged with drunk driving could benefit by speaking with an experienced DUI attorney who can determine if rights were violated, and whether reasonable suspicion was proven.

Source: NOLO, "Pennsylvania DUI: Refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test," Teresa Wall-Cyb, Accessed November 28, 2017

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