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Can You (And Should You) Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

A DUI conviction on your record can have a lasting damaging impact on your life. It could result in jail time, fines, the loss of your job, increased insurance rates, as well as many other hardships. Knowing your rights and the proper actions to take if you are being investigated for a DUI may help prevent years of negative fallout.


In Ohio, a DUI is called an OVI (Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence). An OVI arrest begins with an initial traffic stop or other initial contact by a law enforcement officer. Upon first contact, the officer will begin observation to determine if there is suspicion of intoxication; including assessment of your physical appearance, engaging in conversation to evaluate your speech and identify other behavioral information such as where you are coming from and if you had been drinking. It is important to remember to be cooperative, but you are NOT required to make any statements to the officer, and you should fully exercise that right.


Investigation by the officer begins with initial contact, but if you are asked to perform a series of roadside tests, you are officially being investigated for a DUI. Again, it is important to comply with the officer’s request to step outside the vehicle, but it is within your rights to refuse any field sobriety test including a breathalyzer. Refusing any testing prevents law enforcement from gathering additional evidence that can be used against you during court proceedings.


Understand that refusing sobriety tests does have consequences. You will likely be arrested and have your license immediately suspended. However, it is important to remember that an arrest is simply an allegation and not a presumption of guilt. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest, and do not make any statements to law enforcement without your attorney being present. If you need immediate legal representation in the Akron, Canton or Summit county area, contact our office to schedule a free, initial consultation. Our Akron criminal and traffic law attorneys will work with each client and address their specific concerns to come to the best possible resolution to their criminal or traffic offense. Please call our office at 330-922-4491 or fill out our contact form.