Police have several tools they’ll use during a traffic stop to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
First, they may use a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). There are several field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is inebriated, which may include (but are not limited to) the horizontal gaze test, walk-and-turn test and one-legged stand test. Each of these tests focuses on clues that might indicate the driver is intoxicated, such as stumbling, slurring words or other, inappropriate responses.
Second, police may ask the suspect to take a breath test – a small, radio-sized machine that evaluates their blood-alcohol content (BAC). If the BAC is 0.08% or above, then the suspect is driving above the legal drinking limit.
It’s important to know, however, that drivers have options when asked to perform an SFST or breath test. Here’s what you should know:
Implied consent laws refer to chemical tests, not SFSTs
Every driver who has a license is obligated to follow implied consent laws. These laws state that people are required to take chemical sobriety tests, like a Breathalyzer, if asked by law enforcement. While most people would believe that a Breathalyzer test and an SFST are both regarded as sobriety tests under implied consent laws, that’s not entirely true.
Only the Breathalyzer is required by law. Refusing it could mean a license revocation, fines and incarceration. However, an SFST isn’t legally binding. In other words, a suspect may refuse to take an SFST without penalties.
You may need to know your legal options if you’re charged with a DUI. That’s the best way to protect your rights and your future.