Can you refuse field sobriety tests in California?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2023 | DUI |

Being pulled over for a suspected DUI can be an intimidating experience. In California, drivers may wonder if they have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests.

It is important to understand California’s laws as well as the implications and potential consequences of refusing such tests.

Your right to refuse field sobriety tests

In California, drivers have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn test or the one-leg stand test, during a DUI stop. These tests assess a driver’s coordination, balance and physical abilities, which law enforcement officers use as indicators of impairment. However, it is essential to note that refusing these tests may result in certain consequences.

Consequences of refusing field sobriety tests

When a driver refuses to perform field sobriety tests, it does not automatically mean they are guilty of driving under the influence. However, it is important to understand that refusing these tests may still lead to certain consequences, including the officer’s determination of probable cause to make an arrest. The officer may rely on other observed signs, such as odor of alcohol, slurred speech or erratic driving behavior, to support their decision to arrest.

Admissibility of refusal in court

The fact that a driver refused field sobriety tests is generally not admissible as evidence in California courts. However, it is crucial to note that the officer can still testify about the driver’s refusal, which may influence the judge or jury’s perception of the case.

Alternative testing methods

In addition to field sobriety tests, law enforcement may ask drivers suspected of DUI to submit to a chemical test, such as a breath or blood test, to measure their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under California’s implied consent law, drivers are generally required to submit to a chemical test after a lawful arrest for DUI. Refusing a chemical test may result in separate consequences, such as the suspension of driving privileges.

Knowledge of your rights in California can empower you to make informed choices and navigate the legal process effectively.