Whenever a driver is stopped by a police officer, the driver should cooperate with the police officer and follow simple guidelines. If the stop is the result of suspicion of drunk driving, the officer will ask the driver questions in order to illicit evidence of intoxication.
If the answers provide some indication of the possibility of intoxication, the officer will likely attempt to administer a field sobriety test. Keep in mind that these tests are almost always never required, though they may carry certain civil penalties. Furthermore, while you cannot lie to the officer, but you also do not have to say anything that would incriminate yourself by invoking your right to remain silent or right to counsel.
What Happens after a Driver Submits to Field Sobriety Tests?
It is worth noting that these tests rarely ever help anyone’s case. However, if a driver submits to one, and if the officer concludes that a driver is intoxicated based on the field sobriety tests, the officer will typically try to administer a preliminary breath test using a portable breathalyzer. These tests often can be somewhat inaccurate and unreliable, so if a driver fails a breathalyzer test the police will usually administer a blood test or urine test at the police station to provide stronger evidence.
It is also worth noting that these tests are almost always voluntary, and in some states, such as New York, they are not admissible in court. Refusing to submit to roadside breathalyzer test is likely admissible, however, and in some states, such as Florida, will result in an automatic suspension of the driver’s license. This may be a moot point, however, if that driver was in fact intoxicated, and it may help in fighting the potential DUI charge they are facing.
When Can the Driver Be Arrested?
The police officer can arrest the driver if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is impaired. This decision is very subjective and it is almost impossible to challenge the arrest.
Once the arrest has been made, the officer will confiscate the driver's license and bring them to the police station where a breathe, blood, or urine test will be conducted to confirm the intoxication.
Before the test, the police will inform you of your chemical test rights, which include the consequences of refusing to submit to a test. Since every state has implied consent laws, drivers are required to submit to these tests and every state has some penalties for refusal. If the police fail to read you these rights, you may be able to challenge any penalties that result from a refusal.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The laws regarding drunk driving are constantly changing, very complex, and the process involved in a drunk driving criminal charge can vary from state to state. An experienced criminal attorney can advise you of your rights and the admissibility of any tests, as well as assist you in raising any other possible DUI defenses, and help you get your drivers license back.