If you are stopped by the police under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you may be asked to perform a standardized field sobriety test. Any encounter with the police can be nerve-wracking and if you do not know your rights, you could end up in trouble with the law. What law enforcement may not want you to know is that most field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. An officer may strongly imply that participation is mandatory, however, you will not be punished for refusing to take part.
Standardized field sobriety tests include:
- One leg stand: The officer will ask subjects to raise one leg off the ground while simultaneously counting aloud for a period of time.
- Walk and turn: Suspects are instructed to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, then turn around and walk back. Subjects may also be asked to count each step.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus: Nystagmus refers to the involuntary jerking motion of the eyes. An officer will use a tool such as a light or a pen to track the subject’s vision across a horizontal plane, watching for signs of intoxication.
Drivers often have misconceptions about the purpose of these tests. Make no mistake, an officer may be building a case against you from the moment they spot your vehicle and sobriety tests only serve to provide evidence which may potentially be used against you. Testing is subjective and drivers should not view this as an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence. If an officer thinks that you have shown signs of intoxication, you may have just provided probable cause for an arrest. While it may feel strange, or even wrong, to refuse the request of a police officer, it is generally recommended that drivers avoid participating in these roadside tests.
IMPLIED CONSENT AND CHEMICAL TESTS
While you will not be penalized for the refusal to take the field sobriety tests mentioned above, refusing to take a chemical test is another story. In Florida, when a person receives their driver’s license, they give what is known as implied consent. This means that drivers suspected of DUI implicitly agree to submit to breath, blood, and/or urine testing to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Refusing to take a chemical test can result in the administrative suspension of your license. A first offense will result in a suspension of one year. A second offense can be charged as a misdemeanor punishable by time in prison, fines, and a license suspension of up to 18 months. Additionally, the refusal to take a chemical test does not guarantee that a driver will avoid a charge for DUI.
ACCUSED OF DUI? CALL (772) 266-3088
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense and a conviction may affect your life for years to come. If you or someone you know has been accused of DUI, Roegiers Law is here to help. It is vital to act quickly as there may be a limited amount of time to contest punishments such as a license suspension. Our founding Stuart DUI attorney has substantial experience helping drivers to protect their rights and can meet with you personally to discuss your case.