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Is it unlawful to refuse a field sobriety test?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2021 | DWI

Many Minnesota college campuses are full of students who are of legal age to consume alcohol. There are also students who engage in underage drinking. In either case, if a student is pulled over in a traffic stop, it is critical to know his or her rights and how to protect them, especially if a DWI arrest takes place. For instance, many students do not know that they are under no obligation to take a field sobriety test.  

Preliminary alcohol screenings are not mandatory 

It is understandable that a college student who has just been pulled over in a traffic stop might feel nervous, especially if he or she has recently consumed alcohol. A sure sign that a police officer suspects drunk driving is a request for the driver to exit the vehicle. The officer might then request that the driver take a field sobriety test or breath test. The driver is under no obligation to do so; there are no legal or administrative penalties for refusing.  

Is it better to comply or refuse? 

A person must decide whether he or she thinks it is best to comply with a request to take a preliminary alcohol screening test during a traffic stop. The tests are called “preliminary screenings” because they take place prior to any arrest that may or may not occur. It is worth noting that the fact that a person refuses to take a breath test or field sobriety test can be used against him or her if he or she winds up facing DWI charges in court. Many people decide that it is best to comply; however, if the police officer in question issues a failing grade (even if the person is not intoxicated) it is probable cause for an arrest.  

Calling home to tell parents that a DWI arrest has taken place 

Of all the stressors that are commonplace in a college lifestyle, having to call home to tell parents that a student has been arrested for suspected drunk driving is one of the worst. Things can get messy, especially if the student did consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel. In addition to calling parents, most students who have been arrested for DWI also call upon an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible for legal support.