Interviewer: Are people actually obligated to take the field sobriety tests?
Michael Munoz: Absolutely not. Field sobriety tests are not mandatory. If someone is stopped for a DUI and the officer is asking questions, they don’t answer any questions. Anybody who’s investigated for DUI should politely tell the officer that they are not going to answer any questions and they’d like to speak to an attorney. In addition, they should also refuse to do any kind of testing until they get a chance to talk to an attorney. The key there is that they’re not refusing to complete a blood or a breath test; they’re just saying that they don’t want to do it until they get a chance to consult with an attorney first and that’s what everyone should ask.
The Consequences Associated With Refusing a Field Sobriety Test in Arizona
Interviewer: If someone refuses a standardized field sobriety test, would they be facing some repercussions?
Michael Munoz: No. For repercussions, you’re referring to in Arizona, it is an MVD consequence called the Implied Consent Laws. Implied Consent are triggered when someone refuses to take a breath or blood test at a police station or DUI event and they refuse to do it, then the police officer will activate the Implied Consent Law and serve them with a notice of suspension for one year on their driver’s license. Field sobriety tests do not trigger Implied Consent. People should refuse to do field sobriety tests, they should refuse to do the portable handheld breath test at the scene but they should not refuse a blood or a breath test back at the station or at DUI wagon until they’ve had a chance to consult with an attorney. They should always ask to consult with an attorney before they make that decision.
Police Officers Generally Administer the Breathalyzer Shortly After the Field Sobriety Tests
Interviewer: If someone has performed a field sobriety test, the police officer is immediately going to do the breathalyzer, is that correct, after that?
Michael Munoz: Most likely, they are going to ask for someone to do a portable breath test at the scene, that’s a handheld breathalyzer. Those handheld breathalyzers are not mandatory as well and people should refuse to do those.
The Scenario Where a Person Refuses Field Sobriety Tests But Consents to a Breath Test
Interviewer: What if someone has been in a situation where they refused the field sobriety tests but they took the breathalyzer. What would happen in a case like that more than likely?
Michael Munoz: Refusing field sobriety tests is good because you’re not giving the state more evidence but if you take a portable breath test, you’re making the same mistake. Someone should refuse those portable breath tests because those officers are just using that to create probable cause to make an arrest. Since you have the right to refuse them, you should exercise that right because the less information you give the officer the better. If you do the tests, you’re kind of helping the police officer’s investigation and that’s really not helping you if you’re doing that. If you take the breath test at the station, that’s something that you should consult a lawyer before doing and if you do the test, that’s fine because by doing the test, you’re not going to trigger implied consent and you will not lose your license if you agree to take that test.