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Field Sobriety Tests and Your Legal Rights

Imagine driving home from Friday happy hour when you see red and blue lights in your rear view mirror. A police officer is pulling you over. If the officer suspects that you have been drinking, he might ask you perform a field test. These tasks usually help officers determine if a driver is too intoxicated to drive.

As the officer asks you to step out of the car, you might be wondering if you are legally obligated to take a field sobriety test. A driving under the influence charge (DUI) can come with serious consequences. Knowing your rights before you find yourself in a situation where an officer might charge you with a DUI can help you protect them during the entire process. If you have receive a DUI charge, an attorney in the Indianapolis area can help you fight it. Read further for more information on refusing a field sobriety test.

No legal obligation

You are not obligated to participate in a field sobriety test, such as a walk-and-turn or the one-legged-touch-your-nose test. Officers use these tests as an investigative tool to determine if a driver is too intoxicated to drive. While you do have to take one of these tests, an officer might still arrest you if he thinks you are under the influence.

Refusing a screening test

A screening test is a level above a field test. After going through the battery of field tests, a law enforcement officer might ask you take a breathalyzer test. This is a preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) and it measures your blood alcohol level. This is also an investigative act to determine if you are too drunk to drive. Just like the field tests mentioned above, you can refuse this test as well.

Implied consent

While you do not have to submit to field tests or a PAS, you may face serious consequences for not doing so because of implied consent laws. Under these laws, when you hand your driver license to the officer, you are implying that you consent to participate in the tests. Refusal could lead to the revocation of your license and increased insurance premiums. Furthermore, the prosecutor might bring up your refusal to take a test during trial.

Blood tests

Refusal to take a blood test is a legal right and does not come with any criminal consequences. Unless the officers have a warrant to take a blood sample, you can refuse without any repercussions. However, there is an exception to this rule. If evidence might be lost unless police take immediate action and you do not have the ability to give or deny consent, the officers can take a blood sample. This usually happens in cases where a suspect is unconscious.

If you are facing a DUI charge, it is important to remember that you have rights and options. A conviction on your record can limit future employment opportunities, university prospects and haunt you for years to come.