Your response is very important if your traffic stop includes a request for a field sobriety test. It could determine your ability to drive at all.
While you may feel able to drive unimpaired, an officer can request to test your faculties on the suspicion of driving under the influence. Whether you consumed one drink or had more, officers can ask you to submit to a sobriety evaluation or breath or blood test.
The legality of field sobriety tests
You may not realize that when you applied for your driver’s license, you provided implied consent to chemical testing if law enforcement has probable cause for suspicion that you are driving under the influence. Chemical testing will analyze a person’s urine, breath, blood or other bodily substance to confirm the presence of a drug, alcohol or controlled substance.
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that refusing to submit to a chemical test could come in the form of a verbal “no” or non-compliant actions.
The consequences of refusal
A standard field sobriety test is not the same as a chemical test. While you could refuse to participate in this evaluation without an automatic license revocation penalty, refusing to submit to chemical testing after hearing the Implied Consent rule carries steep consequences. First-time DUI offenders lose their licenses for one year, while repeat offenders with a DUI conviction lose their licenses for two years.
Refusing a breath test or field sobriety check does not help your DUI defense. Whether you feel impaired or not, comply with law enforcement requests to avoid penalty.