Can I Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois?
By Dan Noll on December 14th, 2013 in
This article attempts to answer the question: Can I Refuse to Submit to the Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois. It is informative in nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Should you have a question about your DUI charge, please contact our DUI defense lawyers for a free initial consultation at (217) 414-8889.
In Illinois, an officer may request a driver to submit to field sobriety tests if they have a reasonable belief that the motorist is Driving Under the Influence. The officer will likely order the motorist out of their vehicle and ask them to “complete a few tests for me.” Those tests are known as the Standard Field Sobriety Tests.
Field Sobriety Tests Background
Since the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted research that resulted in the development of three standardized field sobriety tests to assist officers in detecting impaired drivers. The battery of standardized field sobriety tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn, and the One-Leg Stand.
In 1986, the International Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution that recommended that law enforcement agencies adopt and implement the Standardized Field Sobriety Test program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 1992, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommended the development of a system for the selection and training of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests practitioners by national standards.
In sum, every police officer in Illinois is (or should be) taught utilizing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration teaching and training materials.
Can I Refuse the Tests?
The short answer: Yes.
A person may refuse to take the field sobriety tests including the portable breath test in Illinois. However, that does not mean a person has the right to refuse to take the tests. In People v. Roberts, 450 N.E.2d 451, it was held that there is no underlying constitutional or statutory right to refuse to take the field sobriety tests and evidence of the refusal is admissible in court. Illinois Courts have found that a motorists’ refusal to submit to testing has some tendency to show consciousness of guilt and is thus relevant and admissible in DUI prosecution. People v. Hires, 920 N.E.2d 1083.
Should I Refuse the Tests?
For the most part, officers do not request drivers to submit to field sobriety tests out of the blue. They generally have some indication that the motorist is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. That said, when an officer is requesting a person to conduct field sobriety tests, they are doing it because they believe the person is DUI.
The purpose of the field sobriety tests are to provide the officer and the prosecutor with evidence against the driver. Thus, submitting to the tests will likely only help the State and hurt the motorist. It is much harder for a prosecutor to convict an individual of DUI when the driver says nothing and refuses to submit to the field sobriety tests.
If you have been arrested in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois for Driving Under the Influence, contact the DUI defense lawyers at the Noll Law Office for a free-initial consultation at (217) 414-8889. Our lawyers are looking forward to hearing for you.