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What are the Penalties for Refusing the Field Sobriety Tests in a DUI?

You're driving home after a night out and you are stopped by a police officer. The officer informs you that he smells alcohol and asks you if you have been drinking. He then asks you to step out of the car and perform a few tests to determine whether you are too drunk to drive. The tests the officer wants you to take are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (or SFSTs). Almost everyone has heard of these tests or has seen them performed on television, but many are still unfamiliar with what they actually entail.

The officer usually wants you to perform three tests. They are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (or HGN), the Nine Step Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg Stand. The HGN is an eye test where the officer will have you follow a pen or his finger with your eyes. The Nine Step Walk-and-Turn is the test that requires you to walk in a straight line touching your feet heel-to-toe. And the One-Leg Stand requires you to stand on one foot for 30 seconds while counting out loud. The officer will use your performance on these tests to help determine whether to offer you a certified chemical test and/or arrest you for drunk driving. If you are arrested, the officer will testify in court about your performance during the tests to help convict you.

What the officer will not tell you is that you are not required to perform any of these field sobriety tests. Unlike a certified chemical test for blood alcohol concentration, there is no penalty for refusing to perform SFSTs. While an officer will act as though you have no choice and must perform them, you can politely tell the officer you are uncomfortable performing the tests and he cannot compel you to do so.

Even if you do not perform the field sobriety tests, you can still be offered a breath test and arrested for DUI. If you are arrested for DUI, it is important to be represented by experienced legal counsel. All of the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP have experience handling DUI cases. Bradley Keffer was formerly the Marion County (Indianapolis) Fatal Alcohol Crash Team Prosecutor and is currently a member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), Scott Barnhart has been recognized by the NAFDD as one of the Top 100 DUI Defense Attorneys in Indiana, and Chris Devlin was formerly a member of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office DUI Prosecution Unit.

If you have been charged with a DUI, do not delay in seeking experienced DUI defense counsel and contact Keffer Barnhart LLP for a free consultation at 1-800-NOT GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.