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A decision about field sobriety tests

As we near the Independence Day holiday weekend, we feel it prudent to revisit the question of whether drivers stopped on suspicion of drunk driving should take field sobriety tests.

So many people submit to the tests thinking that they are okay to drive, and they probably are. However, the police are not necessarily looking to judge your cognitive functions. Instead, they are looking for objective evidence to justify a portable breathalyzer test (PBT), which could lead to a drunk driving arrest. 

All of this is the foundation for probable cause, which is ultimately required to make a DUI arrest. Without it, an officer may not have the requisite facts to make an arrest. The question becomes, then: are you required to submit to field sobriety tests?

Michigan law does not require drivers to perform field sobriety tests if a police officer asks them to do so. Field sobriety tests are quite different from the chemical tests (blood, urine or breath) that are required after a person is arrested on suspicion for drunk driving. Chemical test refusals could result in additional criminal charges, including the loss of one’s driving privileges.

With that said, it is unclear if refusing to submit to field sobriety tests will help in avoiding arrest. Remember, these tests are only one way to justify an arrest. It is not the exclusive means of doing so.

The preceding is not legal advice. It is only legal information. If you have questions about DUI stops, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. 

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