No, you are never required to perform field sobriety tests for a police officer. This is something many people do not know. I can even confess that this is something even my wife did not know until recently. No, she was not the subject of a DWI investigation, but when I was talking to her about writing this blog she was surprised by the answer. The trick here is that police do not make their request to perform field sobriety sound optional. It sounds like an order, or they just move through it as if it is something you are required to do. This is not the case. You always have the right to refuse to perform field sobriety tests regardless of the circumstances. It does not matter if a police officer pulls you over after you were swerving all over the road and he saw you taking swigs off a bottle of Jack Daniels while you were driving. There is no set of facts or circumstances where the police can compel you to complete field sobriety tests against your will.
Another important note, do not make your refusal to complete the field sobriety tests sound like an admission that you are drunk. Saying something like “I would not do those tests even if I was sober” is a very bad idea. Try, “I have been advised to never submit to these tests regardless of the situation” instead. Once you have made that statement then there is no need for you to explain yourself further. The officer is going to try to talk you into the tests. He is probably going to also start to question you more by saying things like “Who told you that?” or “Why wouldn’t you perform them if you aren’t drunk?”
It is the police officer’s job to try to gather as much evidence of intoxication as possible, but it is in your best interest to limit that evidence. Even if the police officer does arrest you for DWI, there is going to be far less evidence to use against you in court if you do not perform the field sobriety tests. With less evidence of intoxication available, the prosecutor handling the case will be less confident in the case, which allows a good DWI defense attorney to negotiate the case from a position of power. If the case were to go to trial, then there is far less evidence for a prosecutor to present to a judge or jury without the field sobriety tests.
If you have been arrested for a DWI, regardless of whether you submitted to the field sobriety tests or not, it is important to speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer about the specific facts of your case. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with me regarding your DWI case, then call my office at (314) 409-2659. We can speak about your case over the phone, and then schedule a follow up meeting at my office that is also free of charge. After we speak you will have a far better understanding of Missouri DWI law, and how that law may affect your case moving forward.