Should I Reject Field Sobriety Tests or Breathalyzer?

There are many reasons for a police officer to pull you over, with the consequences ranging from a small fine to jail time. If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), they will more than likely ask you to blow into a breathalyzer, which will measure your breath alcohol level (BRAC) or perform field sobriety tests. What some people may not know though, is you can refuse either or both of these. This refusal does not come without risk, of course.

Refusing a Breathalyzer

If you blow into a breathalyzer and results indicate that your BAC is over the legal limit of .08%, that is generally all the probable cause the office needs to arrest you for DUI. However, in Mississippi, you have the option to refuse a breath test. Under Mississippi’s implied consent laws, however, drivers impliedly consent to a breath test in exchange for a driver’s license. What this means is that there are consequences for your refusal. In Mississippi, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least 90 days and up to one year if you refuse to submit to a breath test.

There are, of course, advantages to refusing a breathalyzer. First, without your BAC results, it can be very difficult for prosecutors to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. BAC results are usually the most important evidence in a DUI conviction, and it is less likely you could still be convicted without the results, though you could still be convicted based on other evidence, 

While it is true your license is suspended automatically for refusing a breath test, you can always challenge the suspension. If you file an appeal, there may be a refusal hearing where the judge will determine whether police officers had probable cause to arrest you. If the judge finds that the officer failed to follow proper protocol, the suspension could be revoked and your license returned to you. You may also apply for a license if you have your court’s order to obtain an ignition interlock device (IID).


Rejecting Field Sobriety Tests

There are three main exercises used for field sobriety tests, and just like the breathalyzer, you can refuse them. The three tests are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk and turn (WAT), and the one leg stand (OLS). HGN involves following an object with the eyes. WAT involves walking in a straight line, heel-to-toe, for nine steps or as instructed by officers. OLS involves standing on one leg and lifting the other six inches in the air while continuing for thirty (30) seconds.

The reason to reject field sobriety tests is that they are subjective in accuracy and validity. Further, the tests are designed for failure. The officers use hyper critical grading without telling you what they are looking for, often time not demonstrating the accepted way to take these tests. Lastly, all grading is subjective, meaning that it’s just what the officer thinks. Many people could not pass the field sobriety test in any circumstance, drinking or not. 

The flaws in the results of these tests can be exploited. The scores of the field sobriety tests are subjective and frequently misinterpreted. While the tests may lead to your arrest, they could also provide substantial grounds for challenge of evidence in court. Refusing to submit to field sobriety testing is not the same as refusing to submit to the breath test and refusal to take the standard field sobriety tests (SFST’s) does not cause your license to be suspended. Police officers must have “reasonable cause” in order to stop you, unless you are at a checkpoint. If you or someone you know has been pulled over on suspicion of a DUI and refused either the breath test or field sobriety test, it is crucial to contact an attorney for advice on what happens next. If you are looking for the best DUI attorney in Mississippi, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A.!


Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney

When you are searching the state of Mississippi for a qualified, experienced DUI defense attorney, look no further than Vic Carmody Jr., P.A. no matter the circumstances of your case, the sooner you get in touch with a qualified DUI defense attorney, the better chance you have for a favorable outcome.  Over the years, we have helped countless defendants who have been charged with DUI’s. Please call us for a free consultation today. We can help you defend yourself when you are arrested and charged with a DUI in Mississippi.

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