Police officers have a wide range of tests at their disposal to help determine if a driver has had too much to drink. However, the problem with these tests is that they’re largely inaccurate, with some barely going above 60% accuracy. That leaves a lot of room for error. Even drivers who have had nothing to drink at all can fail these tests, leading to an arrest for DUI. Of course, blood and urine testing will eventually exonerate innocent drivers, but that doesn’t make up for the time lost or the stigma of being arrested. Should you refuse to take field sobriety tests? What happens if you do refuse?
The Breath Test
The only test that you really should submit to is the breath test. You do have the right to refuse this test. However, the state of California holds that if you possess a state-issued driver’s license, then you have tacitly agreed to take a breath test if an officer suspects that you might be driving under the influence. So, while you certainly have the right to refuse this test, it might not be the best course of action. Even if you haven’t been drinking, refusal of the breath test can lead to a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. There’s also the possibility that your refusal to take the breath test will be used against you in a court case. Generally, it’s best to submit to the test.
Other Field Sobriety Tests
There are quite a few different tests that an officer might ask you to perform during a stop for suspected DUI. However, understand that all of these tests are voluntary. You can refuse them. There are no legal repercussions for refusing any field sobriety tests, other than the breath test. Don’t count on the officer to tell you this, though. In fact, it’s not unusual for the officer to demand that you take the tests. Know your rights. Field sobriety tests (other than the breath test) are optional.
Does that mean you won’t be arrested? No, it does not. If the officer has asked you to take a field sobriety test, that means he or she already has reason to suspect that you’re driving under the influence. The tests are really just a formality. If the officer believes that you’re driving under the influence, he or she can arrest you on probable cause even without you taking any tests. There are several ways in which an officer determines if you’ve had anything to drink, including:
- Glassy eyes
- Slurred speech
- Flushed face
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- Open containers of alcohol in the car
- Empty containers of alcohol in the car
- Other factors that relate to your driving, including s werving, inability to maintain lane, erratic speed, and failure to stop for stop signs/red lights
What Happens If I Take the Test?
Taking the field sobriety tests does not give you a sure shot at avoiding arrest for DUI. You have to perform the tests flawlessly, and many people struggle with these tests when they’re completely sober. Combined with the inaccuracy of the testing methods, there’s still a chance that you’ll be arrested for DUI, even if you haven’t been drinking or are within the legal BAC limit (under 0.08%).
Whether you decide to comply with the officer and fail the tests, take the tests and still find yourself arrested, or blow too high on the breath test, the only defense is a skilled California DUI attorney. Contact Mr. Joshua Price to schedule a free consultation by calling (760) 613-5384?.