Flashing lights and noisy sirens behind you often cause a great deal of anxiety. What did you do? Why did the officer stop you? You may begin to take mental inventory of the last few miles to figure it out. When the officer approaches and begins talking to you, you may be surprised to find out that he or she suspects you of drunk driving.
You may be like many other Michigan drivers who believe that when a police officer asks you to submit to field sobriety tests, you have no choice but to comply. Few things could be farther from the truth. Did you know that taking those tests is completely voluntary? Keep in mind, however, that you may still incur administrative penalties if you refuse to take a breath test.
Why police officers want you to comply
In order to arrest you for drunk driving, an officer must establish probable cause to believe you are impaired. Field sobriety tests often make that task easier. The problem is that the tests are largely subjective. An officer’s bias plays a big part in whether you pass or fail the tests.
Since the officer already suspects you of impairment, you end up in the unenviable position of disproving that assertion. You may already realize that the odds are stacked against you. However, now that you know you don’t have to participate in field sobriety tests, you don’t have to provide any additional ammunition for the officer.
How police officers may attempt to convince you
Did you know that police officers may mislead you, and it’s legal? You may hear one of the following justifications to persuade you to participate in field sobriety testing:
- Refusing to take the tests implies guilt.
- Refusing means you have something to hide.
- Taking the test proves to the officer you can safely drive.
- It proves the officer’s suspicion is false.
Remember that one of the primary tenets of the criminal justice system here in the United States is that you are presumed innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. You are not obligated to prove your innocence to the officer through field sobriety tests. These attempts at persuasion may give you the impression that if you “prove your innocence” you can leave. That probably won’t be the case.
What to do next
If the officer places you under arrest, it may be in your best interest to begin asserting your legal rights right away. Numerous legal resources are available to you no matter where in Michigan you live, and making use of them could provide you with the best outcome possible to your situation.