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Can I be charged for refusing a field sobriety test in New Jersey?

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2014 | Drunk Driving |

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend quickly approaching, we find it prudent to touch upon the dangers of drinking and driving. It should come as no surprise that there will be additional patrols across New Jersey highways this weekend. Independence Day is one of the most dangerous times on the road for drivers; comparable to New Year’s Eve with regard to the number of crashes and fatalities due to alcohol use. 

Because alcohol related accidents are viewed as being completely preventable, commonly result in tragedies and put pressure on public officials, law enforcement agencies are driven to find drunk drivers and take them off the road. However, not every person stopped on suspicion of drunk driving is actually breaking the law, but the field sobriety tests that officers request drivers to perform may tell a different, yet inaccurate, story.

With that said, are you required to perform field sobriety tests? More importantly does it help to politely decline to do so?

As a matter of law, drivers are not compelled to perform field sobriety tests. These tests are very different from the chemical tests (blood, urine or breath) that are required after a person is arrested for DWI. A refusal under these circumstances could result in additional criminal charges, including the loss of your driver’s license in addition to fines.

Conversely, field sobriety tests are designed to confirm an officer’s initial suspicions and give him or her probable cause to arrest you.

As to whether it helps to politely decline, that depends on your individual situation. However, if an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, chances are that you are going to be arrested anyway.

The preceding is only general information and is not intended to be legal advice. For more information pertaining to your individual situation, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. 




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