Being stopped by a police officer for any reason is a nerve-wracking experience, even if you know you did not do anything wrong. Many people start sweating, shaking and stuttering. It is because there can be so much at stake.
If a police officer suspects that you are driving drunk, the experience can turn much scarier, because a conviction could mean spending time in jail. One of the most important things to remember is that you have rights, and you can exercise them. You do not have to make the police’s job easier by helping them build a case against you.
One of the ways you can help yourself is by refusing to take a field sobriety test. In Virginia, there is no penalty for refusing to take the test. Remember to be polite when turning down the officer’s request.
Test Refusal Does Not Mean Guilt
Despite what many people think, there is no way to “pass” a field sobriety test. Instead, it is a test that the officer will use to build their case that they had probable cause to arrest you and that you were drunk.
Even if you walk a straight line, sing your ABCs backwards and forwards and hop on one foot, the officer may still tell a judge and jury that you exhibited signs of drunkenness because of factors outside of your control.
Things that could work against you when taking a field sobriety test include obesity, a medical impairment that affects your balance, slippery pavement or wearing the wrong shoes. By refusing to take the test, you are denying the officer more information that they can use against you.
Talk To A Lawyer As Soon As Possible
In addition to refusing to take a field sobriety test, you have the right to remain silent and only speak with your attorney. If the officer still arrests you, remember that you have already done your lawyer and your case a favor by not giving the prosecution more evidence to use against you.