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Do I have to take field sobriety tests if I am stopped?

Even those in the Tampa area who haven't had personal experience with them may be at least somewhat familiar with field sobriety tests. After all, they have been ingrained in the common culture as part of the ritual of a drunk driving arrest and charge: first a person gets stopped, then they take the field sobriety tests and then they take an official blood or breath test.

However, it is important for Floridians to remember that just because field sobriety tests are commonly done, they are not mandatory. Many might not want to take these tests. Some might believe, and arguably quite rightly, that the tests are inherently flawed and are likely to diminish one's chance of beating a DUI case. Others might be concerned that they physically will not be able to perform the test.

The reality is, though, that there is no legal requirement to take the tests. In other words, if someone says "no," there is nothing an officer legally can do to make someone take the test.

There are some words of warning in order, though. For one, a police officer may not need to do field sobriety tests to establish the grounds he or she needs to offer a certified blood or breath test or even make an arrest. Refusing to take a certified test is an entirely different matter and can cost a Floridian his or her license.

Still, a person does not have to perform field sobriety tests if an officer stops him or her on suspicion of drunk driving. However, there may be some advantages to performing them anyway. It is important, in any event, for people to remember that if a person does perform the tests, they may be used as evidence in a subsequent prosecution.

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