Re: Should I Refuse Field Sobriety Tests if I'm Innocent
Were you arrested and charged? Or, did the cop just tell you that you failed, saying he/she believed you were high? I ask because the FSTs are not designed to fail. When administered properly, each test is researched to be about 65-70% accurate. Combined, they are about 90% accurate. Out of the 10% inaccuracy, about 8% are actually false negatives...meaning the person actually is impaired but the tests failed to reveal it. Only the remaining 2% are false positives. So, if the cop really felt that you had failed the FSTs, it is unlikely that you would not have been arrested.
FSTs are voluntary and a refusal cannot be used as evidence against you. However, if you are being asked to take them, something has already aroused the cop's suspicions that you are impaired. By refusing, you force the cop to evaluate you on more subjective grounds (your speech, your walk, your ability to answer questions, etc.) rather than the objective, and much more accurate, tests. If you are truly alcohol/drug free, you may just be giving up your best opportunity to dispel the officer's suspicions. Probable cause is all the officer needs to make an arrest.
That is rare, but possible. Seeing as the HGN is the single most accurate of the tests (and, you are right, it is one that is rarely skipped under any conditions), it would be in your interest to have a doctor check and document it. If you are able to truthfully tell an officer that you have a naturally occurring nystagmus (as opposed to your "I think" statement above), then he/she would know not to give it so much weight.
That's good...because the chemical tests are required under the implied consent laws. If you refuse those, your refusal can be used as evidence against you in court and your license will be suspended regardless of how you fair in court!
It is very unlikely that any prosecutor would even take it to court. Regardless of the signs of impairment that the cop found, if chemical tests showed that you were alcohol and drug free it would be pretty much impossible to reach a verdict of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.
Gee...paranoid much? Do you really think that cops who are willing to risk their career, their retirement, or even prison - just so they can frame you for some piss-ant drug charge - are so common you can't swing a cat without hitting one? Could a cop do this? Of course...so could your mom, your best friend, or anyone else you allow inside your car! Of course, if a cop really wanted to frame you that bad, why go through the formality of asking you for consent to search? Why not just grab some dope from his/her stash (which we all know cops carry with them for just such an opportunity!) and say he/she saw it sticking out of your pocket. I mean, if the cop is willing to plant dope on you, is he/she really going to be morally opposed to lying?
But, to answer your question, there are two valid points of view. One point of view is that you should refuse consent on principle. Your right to refuse is just that...a right...and should be exercised. exercising your rights against governmental intrusion helps keep that right strong and uninfringed.
The other point of view is, if you truly have nothing to hide, why not dispel the cop's suspicions as quickly as possible so you can be on your way. If a cop has suspicions that cause him/her to want to search, your refusal is probably just going to delay things while he/she pokes around as much a legally permissible in an attempt to develop grounds to go further.
I just saw that this is your second thread on nearly identical questions. maybe you should be asking yourself exactly what you are doing that causes you to be stopped and evaluated for impairment so often! Cops don't just pull over every tenth car that goes by, thinking, "I'm just gonna try to get this guy to do FSTs and accuse him of being high to try to get him to confess." Those cops that are pulling you over have some reason to suspect you are impaired!
Behind the badge is a person. Behind the person is an ego. This is as it should be, person at the center and ego to the back.