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If you are pulled over and the police officer asks you to take a breath, blood, urine, or another type of field sobriety test, do you have to comply? If you refuse, what happens?

When a police officer believes a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they will likely ask the person to perform various tests. This might begin with a walk and turn test or one leg test followed by a breathalyzer test. The former is known as field testing and the later chemical testing.

Field Sobriety Testing

In general, police will start with field sobriety tests to gain a better understanding of whether or not the driver might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are three different field sobriety tests that police in all states will typically administer. These tests have been studied for their effectiveness and have been shown to be very reliable. The tests are:

  • The One Leg Stand Test
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
  • The Walk and Turn Test

In general, you do have the legal right to refuse to participate in these tests. Doing so should not result in legal penalties.

Implied Consent Laws

If a police officer has enough probable cause to suggest that you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it may be considered as implied consent.

In this case, there are laws that require you to take a chemical test. Under the law, by driving on the road with a driver’s license, you have agreed to allowing police officers

to give you chemical tests in order to determine what your blood alcohol content is. Although these laws do vary by state, especially what type of test is required, all states have implied consent laws.

The three types of chemical tests include:

  • A breathalyzer test
  • A blood test
  • A urine test

The Time Your Chemical Test is Administered

Some states have rules about the length of time a police officer has to administer the test; usually, this is within a few hours from the time you were pulled over.

Even if you took the test after the time, you could still be charged with a DUI. What this means is that a chemical test that proves you are intoxicated is not necessarily mandatory to be charged with a DUI. Sometimes the officers’ word and your behaviors are enough.

Refusing a Chemical Test

Technically you have the right to refuse any sort of chemical testing. If you choose to refuse a breathalyzer test or a blood or urine test, you will almost certainly face greater consequences that if you were found guilty of a DUI. Depending on the state, the circumstances of the offense, and whether or not there are mitigating factors, you may be penalized with jail time, large fines, a license suspension/revocation, and more. If you plead not guilty and your case goes to trial, the prosecutor can use your refusal against you.

As a DUI lawyer, it is not possible to give you advice on whether or not you should refuse a breathalyzer test or any other test for that matter if you are suspected of driving under the influence. Just understand that if you do refuse, the penalties could be worse. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you should consult a drunk driving accident lawyer DC offers as soon as possible.

Contact The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and breathalyzer tests.

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