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Do drivers have to take a field sobriety test in Maryland?

A field sobriety test is one of the most humiliating tests a person can be asked to take.

Most people take these tests because they think they have to. In reality, there is no law that says a person has to take a field sobriety test in Maryland.

A test designed for drivers to fail

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration designed the field sobriety test as a tool for police officers to us in making DUI arrests. It usually consists of three parts:

  • Standing one leg while counting backward from 1,000
  • Walking heel-to-toe for nine steps and then turning
  • Tracking an object the police officers moves in front of your eyes

The tests are performed in a high-stress situation - typically on the side of the road while cars are zipping by. The police officer will be an intimidating presence, asking you to follow instructions exactly. Under these conditions, any test would be difficult to perform. The officer may ask you to perform additional tests than many people find next to impossible, such as reciting the alphabet backward.

Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

You do not have to take the field sobriety test in Maryland. Under our state's implied consent laws, you could face driver's license suspension if you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test. This test would typically be done at the police station after you have been arrested. Even then, you should seek legal advice from an attorney who is experienced in trying DUI cases before you take the test.

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