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Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in WV?

When a person is suspected of driving under the influence in West Virginia, law enforcement may administer one or more field sobriety tests (FSTs) during a traffic stop to determine if the driver is impaired. If a person is formally charged with a DUI, the results of these tests can be used against him/her.

The following are the three field sobriety tests made standard by the NHTSA:

  • Walk and Turn – A suspect must walk in a straight line, taking nine steps in a heel-to-toe fashion, then turn on one foot and return in the opposite direction in the same manner. If a suspect has difficulty following instructions or balancing, these signs are an indication of impairment.
  • One Leg Stand – A suspect must stand with one foot, six inches above the ground for 30 seconds. If a suspect has difficult balancing by swaying or using arms to balance, these signs are an indication of impairment.
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – Using his/her eyes, a suspect must rack an object as it moves across his/her field of vision. Involuntary jerking of the eye is an indication of impairment.

In general, if a police officer asks a suspect to perform a FST, the suspect is not legally required to do so. Every person in West Virginia has the right to decline these tests without being subject to legal penalties.

Keep in mind, these tests are designed to be used against you. The test results give law enforcement more evidence to arrest, charge, and convict you of a DUI.

However, you could still be arrested for drunk driving, despite not taking a FST. But since you didn’t take these tests, the results cannot be used against you in court.

For more information about DUI law in West Virginia, contact The Wagner Law Firm today at (304) 461-6000 to request a free case review.

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