You may agree with other Boston residents that flashing lights and sirens behind you is never a good sign, especially if they are for you. Once you pull over to the side of the road, the officer will approach you. If he or she suspects you of operating under the influence for some reason, he or she will probably ask you to participate in field sobriety tests.
You may feel as though you have to participate in these tests, but legally, you don’t. It is not a requirement that you attempt to stand on one leg, walk a straight line or follow an object with your eyes. Of course, you can agree to do so, but the odds of you passing these tests are not in your favor.
The officer is the one who decides if you pass
Even though they are “standardized” tests, individuals determine the results. What this means is that you could perform the tests for multiple officers, but you won’t get a standard grade. Each officer will make his or her decision as to whether you passed or failed based on different observations. This is because the tests are subjective. The opinion of the officer determines the outcome, and he or she already thinks you may be impaired.
That bias could skew the results of your tests, which the officer uses to build probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of OUI. If you participate in these tests, you are only helping the officer establish a legal reason to take you to jail.
The officer tries to convince you to participate
If you decide not to participate in the tests, the officer will more than likely attempt to convince you otherwise. You can continue to politely and calmly refuse. However, you should know this may not keep the officer from arresting you, but you aren’t giving him any additional “ammunition” against you.
Other than polite refusals to take field sobriety tests and provide basic identification information, you should probably not answer any of the officer’s questions either. You do have the right to remain silent even before the officer places you under arrest. If you do end up being taken into custody, you may want to exercise your right to an attorney as soon as possible, as well, in order to make sure your rights are protected.