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Can I Refuse To Take A Roadside Sobriety Test In Wisconsin?

  • Birdsall Obear
If you have been pulled over by law enforcement in Wisconsin and the officer suspects that you have been drinking, the officer may ask you to submit to a roadside field sobriety test. There are two key points to note, however: Yes, you can absolutely refuse to submit to roadside sobriety testing. Once you have been arrested, however, refusing to submit to a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test is an automatic one-year license suspension.

Sobriety Testing And Probable Cause


Police officers can only lawfully arrest you for intoxicated driving if they haveprobable cause to do so. Field sobriety testing is one means by which a police officer may find probable cause to haul you down to the station. It is therefore almost always in your best interest to refuse to test, as highly subjective field sobriety testing may lead to your arrest and be used as evidence against you if you are charged with an OWI. 

Types Of Field Sobriety Tests 


There are a few different types of sobriety tests that police officers in Wisconsin may ask you to perform if they suspect that you are driving with a .08% or higher BAC. The three most common sobriety tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk-and-turn test. 


  1. If you take the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer will tell you to follow a moving object with your eyes (usually the officer’s finger or a pencil) while they slowly move the object from side-to-side. They will be looking for any signs of nystagmus, an involuntary jerking of the eye that may be worsened if you are under the influence of alcohol. 
  2. The one-leg stand test is exactly what it sounds like -- the officer will ask you to stand on one leg for a period of time. This test can be difficult to perform even if you are sober. Indicators of guilt such as wobbling or putting your other foot down may also be a result of a health condition or simply trouble balancing. With that being said, this test may still be used against you in court if you are arrested.
  3. If you submit to the walk-and-turn test, the officer will tell you to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line for a certain distance, then turn around and walk back. This test may be difficult to perform if you are intoxicated because alcohol can cause loss of coordination. 


None of these tests are fool-proof. Even if you are 100% sober, you could accidentally incriminate yourself by submitting to these highly subjective field sobriety tests. Any observations noted by law enforcement during testing may be used to build an OWI case against you.

You Can Still Be Charged With An OWI Even If You Refuse To Test


It is important to remember that even if you refuse a chemical test, you can still be charged with OWI/DUI if the officer has other evidence that you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated. If you are facing drunk driving charges, contact an experienced Wisconsin drunk driving defense attorney today to ensure that your rights are protected.