Can you refuse a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2024 | Drunk Driving |

After a long day at work, we sometimes enjoy stopping by our favorite watering hole to relax and unwind before heading home. It’s a time to trade jokes and have a few laughs with some friends while enjoying a couple of beers.

You head home only to look in your rearview mirror and see flashing lights. The next thing you know, a police officer asks you to step out of the car and perform a field sobriety test. Do you have to comply?

The problem with field sobriety tests

Field sobriety tests are a series of physical and mental tasks used by law enforcement to determine whether a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. While these tests are common, there are questions and controversies about their use.

Field sobriety tests rely heavily on the officer’s subjective judgment. Their experience, training and personal biases can influence their assessment, especially if they have already decided that the driver is intoxicated.

The tests also don’t consider the various physical and medical conditions that can affect a person’s ability to perform the tasks. Conditions such as vertigo, arthritis and neurological disorders can impair their balance and coordination.

Furthermore, environmental factors, including uneven pavement, potholes, poor lighting and inclement weather, can create challenges affecting test results.

In Nebraska, you are not legally required to submit to a field sobriety test when a law enforcement officer asks. You have the right to politely and respectfully decline. However, it’s important to differentiate between field sobriety and chemical tests, such as breath, blood or urine tests. Nebraska’s implied consent laws mean that if you drive on its roads you are agreeing to submit to chemical testing if you are arrested for a DUI.

Still, even if you refuse to take a field sobriety test, an officer can arrest you based on other observations, such as erratic driving, the smell of alcohol, slurred speech or other signs of impairment. Therefore, if you are charged with a DUI, it’s crucial to have a strong defense.