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Man doing field sobriety test

Can you Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in New Mexico

Field Sobriety Tests in New Mexico: Know Your Rights

At the Law Office of Todd J. Bullion, we are committed to informing New Mexicans about their legal rights during traffic stops, particularly regarding field sobriety tests also called FSTs. Understanding your rights can significantly impact the outcome if you’re stopped for suspected driving under the influence (DUI).

Field Sobriety Tests:

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are commonly used by police officers in New Mexico to establish grounds for a DUI arrest. These tests are designed to assess impairment through a series of tasks that evaluate balance, coordination, and the ability to perform divided attention tasks. The most common FSTs include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test, the Walk-and-Turn Test, and the One-Legged Stand Test.


You Can Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in New Mexico:

Yes, you can refuse to take field sobriety tests in New Mexico. Unlike chemical tests (breath or blood), which are mandated under the state’s implied consent law, field sobriety tests are not compulsory. However, refusing these tests does not guarantee that you won’t be arrested.

Refusing Field Sobriety Tests:

While you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests in New Mexico without direct legal penalties, such as license suspension, the refusal can lead an officer to request a breathalyzer test, which is covered under implied consent laws. Refusal to submit to a breathalyzer can result in license suspension and other penalties.

The Subjectivity of Field Sobriety Tests:

It’s crucial to understand that field sobriety tests are inherently subjective – the officer giving the test decides if you pass or fail. Even sober individuals can fail these tests due to nervousness, physical conditions, or even poor instructions from the officer conducting the test. Unfortunately, these tests are often used to collect evidence against the driver, rather than to conclusively determine impairment. People have been arrested and charged with DUI even when they have performed well on these tests.

Field sobriety tests may not accurately reflect a driver’s sobriety or blood alcohol content level. Various factors like age, weight, health conditions, and external conditions (such as uneven or wet roads and poor lighting) can negatively impact performance on these tests. Furthermore, non-alcohol related issues such as illness, fatigue, medications, or anxiety can also affect test results, leading to inaccuracies in assessing impairment. It’s important to note that the outcome of these tests heavily relies on the officer’s judgment, which is subjective and potentially flawed if the officer lacks proper training. This uncertainty makes field sobriety tests an unreliable indicator of intoxication.

Your Rights During a DUI Stop::

  1. Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests: You are not legally required to submit to FSTs.
  2. Right to an Attorney: You can request to speak to an attorney before deciding whether to submit to any tests.
  3. Right to Remain Silent: You are not required to answer incriminating questions without a lawyer present.
  4. Right to a Chemical Test: If you choose to undergo testing, you can also request an independent chemical test at your own expense to verify the results.

If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in New Mexico, it’s essential to have a skilled attorney who understands the nuances of DUI law. Todd J. Bullion has extensive experience in defending clients against DUI charges, with a deep understanding of the strategies to challenge both the results of field sobriety tests and the conduct of the arresting officers.

For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Todd J. Bullion at 505-494-4656. Protect your rights and ensure you have the best defense on your side.

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