Drivers who are stopped by police on suspicion of driving under the influence of intoxicants are typically asked to take field sobriety tests (“FST’s”). Most often these tests are carried out on the side of the road and the information that is gathered in these tests become an important part of the evidence used to prove a DUI.
One common inquiry we get from clients is whether or not a person will face harsher legal ramifications if they choose not to take the tests. To help us answer this question we sat down with one of our incredible associate attorneys, Ken Stafford.
RDF: Are there legal consequences for refusing to take field sobriety tests?
KS: Not in the same sense as there are if you were to refuse the breath test. If you refuse a breath test, that carries along with it the possibility of a driver’s license suspension, and the length of that suspension depends on a number of factors. In refusing field sobriety tests, there’s no license suspension.
Typically what would happen is the officer would read to you what is called the ROHRS Admonishment. This explains to you that the officer is going to ask you to perform what they describe as purely physical tests that are not going to ask you to reveal your thoughts, beliefs, or state of mind. Then the officer describes to you what the tests are, which is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (“HGN”), walk and turn test, and the one-leg stand. Finally they’ll ask you if you have any questions about any of these things, and if you still say that you do not want to take the FST’s, the officer will tell you that your refusal can be used against you in court. This basically means that if you were to take your case to trial, the State could offer your refusal as evidence that you didn’t take the tests because you knew you would fail, because you were impaired. So that’s really the only “consequence” for refusing the FST’s.
As always, we hope you never need to call us, but if you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, contact us today to start getting questions answered about your unique situation. We provide resources as a starting point, to provide general information. But please remember, at the end of the day, a website can never be a good substitute for talking with an experienced DUI attorney, who specializes in Oregon DUI law.