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Can I be charged with a crime for refusing field sobriety tests?

The scenery and atmosphere of Pawley’s Island is the opposite of many venues that host spring break activities. Visitors appreciate the unspoiled tranquility that the area offers. While you might not find wild parties and scores of intoxicated college students, law enforcement agencies are still on the lookout for drunk drivers.

If you have the misfortune of being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, you should remember that you still have rights. This is especially important considering that many drivers are asked to step out of their vehicle and perform field sobriety tests. After all, there is a common misconception that a driver could be charged with a crime for not participating in such tests. 

As a matter of law, drivers suspected of drunk driving are not required to complete field sobriety tests. These tests are actually geared towards giving officers the probable cause they need in order to make an arrest. In many circumstances, an officer may not have the first hand knowledge they need to justify taking someone into custody, so the sobriety tests give them the ability to judge balance, cognitive responses, and the justification to insist on a PBT (portable breathalyzer test).

Without this information, a drunk driving charge may not succeed. Keep in mind, field sobriety tests are much different than chemical tests (breath, blood or urine) that are imposed after an arrest. A refusal to submit to a post-arrest chemical test is a separate crime.

If you have questions about your rights during and after a drunk driving stop, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. 

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