My son was charged with drunk driving (DUI) by the Pennsylvania State Police. A family friend told us that he did not have to take the field sobriety tests that he was instructed to take by police, is this true?
The short answer is, yes, you are not required to take a field sobriety test. In fact, there is little benefit gained from taking one as the results are subjective. Simply put, the officer already suspects that you are under the influence. Performance of the test, even if successful, will rarely convince the officer otherwise.
Now that your son has been charged, you should retain an experienced criminal attorney to represent him. If he cannot afford counsel, make an application to the public defender's office in the county where he was arrested. Good luck!
It is true that a driver is not required to submit to field sobriety tests. A driver also need not submit to a breath or blood test; however there are consequences for failing/refusing to do so. You should consult with an experienced DUI attorney in your area as early as possible to ensure that your son's case is being handled properly.
I suppose that the police cannot force a suspect to do anything. However, in my experience, I have found that the defendants who were cooperative at the time of their arrest but ultimately convicted generally receive more favorable treatment at sentencing.
Thanks for your question and best of luck to your son.
You son does not have to submit to either field sobriety tests or a BAC test. There are however consequences for not submitting to certain tests. You and your son should rely on the advice of qualified counsel in making a decision as to how to proceed with his case. He should not try to handle this on his own nor should he rely on the advice of friends or family who are not versed in this area of the law.
Adam D. Zucker, Esquire
Mudrick & Zucker, P.C.
Lansdale & Conshohcken
Your son does have many rights and you want to make sure they are protected. He should absolutely talk with a qualified DUI attorney immediately to go over his case and any possible defenses.
Please feel free to call me if you have any questions.
Zachary B. Cooper, Esq.
Levow & Associates, PC
Limited to DUI Defense
The Standard Field Sobriety Tests (HGN (or eye following the pen test), Walk-and-Turn, One-Leg Stand) are completely voluntary and there is no legal penalty for refusing to perform them. (Other non-standard field tests include citing the alphabet, counting backwards, etc.) The SFSTs are divided-attention tests that are not easy to pass when you are completely sober and when taken under ideal lighting and climate conditions. Add the subjectivity of the officer in scoring the tests (who already suspects you have been drinking), and the odds of "passing" all of the tests and being released are very low. On the contrary, the results of the SFSTs can be used against you in court to establish probable cause and ultimate guilt (except for the HGN test, which is not admissible at trial). Therefore, the best advice I have heard is to politely and respectfully advise the officer that you will comply with all requirements, but that on the advice of an attorney you are refusing to perform the SFSTs. The officer may not be happy, but you are simply invoking a known right not to do something that likely would incriminate you.
Please do not confuse field sobriety tests with chemical tests, either breath or blood. If you refuse the chemical test, your license will automatically be suspended for a year or up to 18 months for a refusal of the breath or blood test, and you likely still will get charged with the DUI. I would not advise people to refuse the chemical test.
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