Advice You Can Use From Attorneys You Can Count On

Advice You Can Use From Attorneys You Can Count On

Do I have to take a field sobriety test? What happens if I refuse?

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense, OVI/DUI |

It does not matter what led to this moment. Having an officer pull you over and accuse you of operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI) is serious. Whether you smell of alcohol or not, you have certain rights.

Do I have to take a field sobriety test?

Although the exact tests used may vary, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages the use of three types of field sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus. For this test, the officer will watch the test taker’s eyes for any involuntary jerking of the eye as the test taker shifts their gaze from side to side.
  • Walk and turn. For this test, the officer generally asks the driver to walk nine steps in a heel to toe patter on a line. The test taker must then turn and walk back the same number of steps in the same pattern. Any deviation from the pattern, stepping off the line or use of arms for balance can serve as evidence of inebriation.
  • One leg stand. The officer looks for swaying, use of arms to balance, hopping and putting a foot down to support the possibility of intoxication.

Those who are pulled over could refuse to take these tests, but that may not stop the officers from continuing their investigation.

What if I refuse to take a breathalyzer or urine test?

If the officer thinks you are impaired, they may arrest you for a suspected OVI. At this point, they may request a blood or breath sample to get a blood alcohol reading (BAC). A refusal can result in loss of your driver’s license and additional penalties. This is because in Ohio, anyone that operates a vehicle within the state has given consent to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine if there is the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other controlled substances. This is referred to as the implied consent law and is present in some form in states throughout the country.

Although the exact penalties will vary depending on the driver’s history and generally does not include jail, Ohio state law still allows for serious penalties for refusing a field sobriety test. Upon refusal, the officer can immediately take away the drivers’ license. The driver’s license is then suspended for anywhere from one to five years. The driver will need to pay a reinstatement fee upon completion of the suspension and provide proof of insurance before the state will reinstate the driver’s license. It is also important to note that the refusal of a breathalyzer will stay on the driver’s record for years and can result in increased penalties for any future violations.

What else should I know?

Anyone that faces criminal charges for an OVI has options. Those accused of an OVI should review the evidence. Why did the police decide to stop you in the first place? Where there any errors in how they administered the test or otherwise gathered evidence?

Mistakes can result in false allegations of wrongdoing. Finding these errors and pointing them out can result in a reduction or even dismissal of charges.