Can You Decline a Sobriety Test?

If you are pulled over under suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol, are you required to take a sobriety test? Most people do not know the answer to this question, but it is incredibly important to know what your rights are before you find yourself in this situation. Here’s an even more important question: Would it be beneficial to decline a sobriety test? This guide will provide the answers to these questions so you will be prepared if you are ever pulled over.

Declining a Sobriety Test

The laws that determine whether or not you are allowed to decline a sobriety test vary from one state to the next. However, it is generally true that you are allowed to decline the test. In some states, this is either not allowed or there are other consequences for declining. For example, in California, officers are allowed to hold a driver for up to 48 hours if he or she declines a sobriety test, without ever making an arrest. You should research your state’s laws or speak with an attorney to learn if you are allowed to decline.

There are three situations where it is always illegal to decline the test, regardless of what state you are in. They are:

  • You are on probation for a DUI
  • You are under the legal drinking age
  • You have already been arrested (for a DUI or any other type of charge)

The Sobriety Test

If you are allowed to, should you? Sobriety tests can prove your guilt, but they can never prove your innocence. Additionally, the results of a sobriety test are subjective. It is up to the officer to decide whether the results of the sobriety test indicate if you are too impaired to drive safely. For these two reasons, it is a good idea to decline the sobriety test if you are allowed to. However, if the sobriety test is required of you, then your best option is to take it immediately without resisting or arguing.

If there was already probable cause that you were impaired, the officer would not need you to take a sobriety test. He or she could simply arrest you. Sobriety tests are only needed when an officer does not have probable cause and hopes to find it. Remember, if you are put under arrest for any reason, even for a crime that is not DUI related, you must submit to a sobriety test if it is requested. Speak with a DWI lawyer in Fairfax, VA to learn more.


Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and declining a sobriety test.


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