Can you refuse an alcohol test from an officer?
The possibility of a DUI charge should worry anyone. Whether you were drinking before getting in the car or not, you will probably be on edge if a police officer pulls you over and asks you to take a sobriety test or breath test. Do you legally have to comply?
A field sobriety test (FST) is a series of physical tests an officer will ask you to complete as a way of determining whether you are intoxicated. They may ask you to walk in a straight line for a certain distance, recite your ABC’s backwards or other such tasks.
You do not have to comply with a FST. Even a perfectly sober person can fail them and they do not truly measure a person’s intoxication. Simply state you are not required by law to perform a sobriety test and that you do not consent.
Breath and blood tests
An officer might also ask you to submit a breathalyzer test when they pull you over. A breathalyzer is a small device that reads your blood-alcohol content (BAC) level when you blow into it. A lot of factors can make this reading inaccurate. You do not have to submit a portable breath test when you are pulled over.
However, you must submit a breath test at the station.If you refuse a breath test altogether, your license can be suspended for a year, on top of the DUI penalties you could face if charged. You can refuse a portable breath test but make it very clear that you are willing to submit a breath test at the police station.
Alternatively, you may be able to submit a blood test at a hospital to determine your BAC level.
Defenses against test results
Just because one of these tests shows you were above the legal BAC level does not mean you will automatically be found guilty. There are many defenses an attorney could use to reduce your penalties or drop your charges altogether. A few examples include:
· No legal reason to pull you over in the first place
· Did not read test consent forms to you
· Calibrated the breathalyzer incorrectly
· Breathalyzer has no certificate to prove its accuracy
· Medical conditions that affect perceived intoxication
· Medications or fatigue caused similar effects to drunkenness