Breath And Field Test Necessity: Your Rights Of Refusal

30 October 2018
 Categories: , Blog


Over the years, you have probably heard a lot of people say that you should refuse the breath test if you are ever stopped for DUI. If you've never been stopped for suspicion of DUI before, you may be wondering if you really should refuse it or not. While you can certainly hope to never find yourself in this kind of situation, it's important to understand the ramifications of your actions in the event that you do face such a traffic stop. Here are some things you should know about refusing the field and breath tests and what it can mean for your case.

What Is The Point Of The Field And Breath Tests?

When a police officer pulls you over for suspicion of DUI, that stop is based solely on his or her observation of your driving habits. Once he or she pulls you over, the stop itself is the time for the officer to gather supporting evidence for that charge.

The field sobriety test, which is a series of tasks for coordination and routine, is used to show physical and reflex impairment. If you cannot complete the field sobriety tests appropriately, the officer can use that as support for the claim that you were intoxicated.

The breath test, on the other hand, is a physical measurement of the alcohol concentration in your blood based on your breath. It produces an actual number, and if it is over the legal limit (while it is .08 in most cases, many states limit CDL license holders to .02 instead), that is proof enough to support the arrest and the case.

Remember that, when you obtain a driver's license, there is an implied consent to certain things, including complying with law enforcement for things such as the breath test or field sobriety test. However, that doesn't mean that you actually have to complete them.

Do You Have To Take The Field Tests?

Most people remember being taught that you should do whatever the officer says when you are pulled over for a traffic stop. While this is typically true, there are some cases where you may want to refuse to actually complete the field sobriety tests.

First, you should understand that field sobriety tests are designed for you to fail. They ask for coordination and attention division that many people would struggle with even if they are sober. Further, if you have a medical condition that could affect your ability to complete the field sobriety test, you should also tell the officer such and refuse to complete the tests.

Do You Have To Take The Breath Test?

The breath test is a hotly contested request during a DUI traffic stop. The fact is that you do have the legal right to refuse the breath test. However, if you do such, it typically leads to some severe penalties as an automatic punitive response for not complying. These penalties can include fines, automatic driver's license suspension, and even extended jail time if you are convicted of the DUI. Further, the officer can, and may, still pursue a subpoena to draw blood for a direct blood alcohol test if you refuse the breathalyzer.

What Can Refusal Mean For Your Case?

If you decide to try to defend yourself against the charges, you need to understand how refusing these tests can affect the case. First, understand that your refusal will be presented in court as evidence. It can then be perceived as though you were combative and trying to hide the fact that you were, in fact, over the legal limit.

In addition, your refusal can also help your case. In many states, failure of the tests may be the only way to actually prove your guilt. Without those as evidence, the charge becomes solely based on the officer's opinion and, absent any other evidence, may be dismissed.

Remember, though, that if the officer does get a blood test, that will be sufficient for evidence to support the case. That's why it's always best to reach out to a defense attorney right away to help you build your case and protect yourself. Get in touch with a firm such as DUI Lawyers of Las Vegas for more information.