Being pulled over by a police officer can be a trying experience. Perhaps you have experienced it before and your stomach sinks as you pull off to the side of the road. Even the best drivers can get nervous from being pulled over. While the police officer is just doing their job by keeping the roads safe for the general public, being pulled over can still be unsettling. This experience is especially stressful for those who have been pulled over for a suspected driving under the influence charge. You have a lot of choices to make in a few short moments and how you decide can have a dramatic impact on your future regarding your legal standing.
One of the things to be aware of is the consequences that come from refusing the field sobriety test, the portable breath test and the blood test at the police station. Each of these tests helps the police officer build a case of your guilt of driving under the influence. While we appreciate the effort of law enforcement to keep the roads safe, it is also critical for your situation to know how to navigate these potential tests so that you avoid a DUI.
Field Sobriety Test
As we have mentioned before on this site we typically advise potential clients to refuse the field sobriety test. This is a voluntary and optional test. The information gathered in this test is not admissible in court which is why it is not required. However, if you refuse the field sobriety test and the officer suspects that you have been drinking they can arrest you under the suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer may have already intended to pursue this path but your refusal may act as a sign of guilt. At this point, you need to contact your legal counsel to get adequate information and representation for your case.
Portable Breath Test
Additionally, you will also be offered a portable breath test. This is also considered optional, and due to the high variance of results is not considered scientifically accurate. As a result, the portable breath test is not allowed into court proceedings. As with the field sobriety test, refusing to take the breath test may be a sign of guilt that the police officer will use to arrest you and take you to the police station.
Blood Alcohol Test
While the first two tests that we have mentioned are optional, refusing to take the blood alcohol test at the police station can result in severe consequences. If you do refuse, be prepared for immediate action including, loss of driver's license for one year or longer depending on if you have had a previous DUI. An additional consequence is that your refusal can be seen as a state of guilt and because the test is not optional, it can be allowed into court proceedings. This means that the prosecuting attorney can utilize this as evidence against you in court. Furthermore, if you are found guilty in court the judge is required to sentence you to a mandatory minimum, which guarantees jail time. We would not advise you to refuse the blood alcohol test at the police station.
While it is our hope that drivers everywhere are able to operate their motor vehicles on the roadways in complete safety and sobriety we know that is just not the case. If you do find yourself pulled over by a police officer for suspicion of drunken driving you need to know your rights and responsibilities. There are aspects of the sobriety testing that are optional that you can choose to refuse. However, there are aspects of the testing process, like the blood-alcohol test at the police station, that are absolutely required and if you refuse the consequences will be severe. From our perspective, it makes the most sense to have an experienced DUI attorney on your side the moment you are pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving. This allows you to have the optimal amount of legal advice and counsel so that you are best able to navigate the legal and court proceedings without lasting harm.