The last thing you want to see on your way home from a night out is flashing lights in your rear-view mirror. You know that those lights never bring good news.

After you respectfully answer the officer’s questions, they ask you to step out of your vehicle. Even if you know you will test under the legal limit, you may question whether you should submit to a field sobriety test.

Here’s what you should know about the test and whether you should take it.

What is the purpose of the test?

Field sobriety test results are often questionable. Depending on the driver’s physical abilities and the conditions of the area for the test, there are times when sober drivers cannot pass a field sobriety test.

While the results are typically not conclusive, the purpose of a field sobriety test is to establish probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause is not enough to establish guilt but does raise enough of a question to allow further investigation.

Refuse at your own risk

A field sobriety test does require your cooperation, but before you decline a field sobriety test, it is crucial that you understand what is at stake. If you refuse the test, the officer will likely ask you to take a roadside breathalyzer called a “PBT” (preliminary breath test) to determine if you are impaired.

While you can respectfully decline, keep in mind that the next step could be your arrest and requirements to submit to breath or blood tests. In some counties, an officer can obtain an e-warrant almost instantly to require a blood test.

Often, when people refuse to take a field sobriety test, it can create more problems than it solves. If you choose to decline the field sobriety test, make sure you avoid making the situation more complicated by being respectful to the officer.