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Can you refuse to take a field sobriety test in Mississippi?

On Behalf of | Mar 22, 2024 | Criminal Law |

If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence, he or she may ask you to perform a field sobriety test. This is a series of physical tests (horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn and one-leg stand) that allow the officer to examine your balance, coordination, ability to follow directions and other factors that determine sobriety.

You may wonder if you have the right to refuse to do these tests.

You have the right to refuse

The field sobriety test is a highly variable and subjective test. It is far from completely accurate due to the fact that judgment depends on the police officer’s training and individual opinion which may have flaws and certainly is not standard between every single police officer. Simply being ill, tired, anxious or on uneven terrain can result in a false failure. You can fail if you have a condition that makes you naturally uncoordinated or dizzy, your eyes are dry or you are mentally down.

A false DUI positive based on this test can and probably will end up as evidence to prosecute you. The law grants you the right to say no to the test. The officer may still arrest you, but the test cannot count as proof of your intoxication, true or not, if you do not take it.

You do not have the right to refuse a breath test

Chemical tests are not the same as field sobriety tests, and the law does not regard refusing them in the same light. While you can refuse a breath test, there are consequences, including license suspension.

All of the tests included in a field sobriety test have varying levels of official accuracy, but none of them are 100% reliable. By nature, they are highly susceptible to false positives. You can protect yourself from one by exercising your right to refuse to take it.