The short answer is NO!
In Massachusetts, you are not legally required to take a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and you have the right to refuse them without facing any penalties. These tests are used by law enforcement officers to assess whether a driver might be impaired by alcohol or drugs. Common field sobriety tests include the 9 step walk-and-turn test, one-leg stand test, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
If you are pulled over and the officer suspects you might be driving under the influence, they may ask you to take a field sobriety test. You have the right to decline the test, but it’s essential to remain polite and cooperative with the officer during the encounter. Keep in mind that refusing a breathalyzer or chemical test (e.g., blood, urine) after an arrest may result in administrative penalties, such as a driver’s license suspension. However, the same penalties do not apply if you refuse a field sobriety test.
Refusing to take a field sobriety test cannot be used against you when your case goes to court. In the circumstances of a jury trial, the jury cannot be told that you were offered field sobriety tests and refused them, because of the prejudicial effect this may have. It is important to refuse these tests because you are effectively taking away evidence from the Commonwealth. The lack of field sobriety tests means less evidence to use against you at trial.
There are no penalties for refusing field sobriety tests and it is our office’s recommendation that you should refuse them. If you have any questions about your rights when you are pulled over, give our office a call at 617-227-8383.