Never consent to breathalyzer or field sobriety tests

Questions, answers, and comments related to brewing.

Moderator: Officers

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 181
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:05 pm

Never consent to breathalyzer or field sobriety tests

#1 Post by Phoenix » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:50 am

I just ran into the following and found it surprising and share-worthy:

Why is it said one should never consent to a breathalyzer during a traffic stop?
Danielle Angelo, J.D. from Roger Williams University School of Law
Answered May 8, 2019 · Upvoted by Adam Nyhan, Business attorney and Christine Chasse, JD Law, Texas A&M University (2021)

Attorney here, answering as someone who has handled a few DUI cases. I tell people to never consent to a breathalyzer and never consent to field sobriety tests. I think 99% of attorneys provide the same advice, though in my jurisdiction this is why:

If someone refuses to comply with any sort of DUI testing, their license will be suspended. Of course, the same is true if you blow into a breathalyzer and show alcohol consumption. You might be thinking, “if I’m going to lose my license anyway, why don’t I just roll the dice and see if I blow under the legal limit?” While you will likely lose your license for 3–6 months whether you refuse a breathalyzer or not, the key is that a refusal is a civil infraction and a DUI is a criminal infraction. In both cases you’ll suffer a license suspension and a series of fines. However, if charged with a DUI, this is staying on your criminal record for at least five years. Furthermore, if you ever get charged with a subsequent DUI in the following five years, you will be looking at mandatory jail time.

As for field sobriety tests, there is a very strong argument that they are scientifically inaccurate. Think about it for a minute. How many people can actually balance on one foot for an extended period of time? How many people regularly practice the dexterity needed to touch the fingertips on their opposite hand or their nose? I, for one, trip over flat surfaces far more often than I care to admit. The simple truth is that sober or not, many people would fail field sobriety tests due to dozens of physical and health reasons that have nothing to do with sobriety whatsoever. If you refuse, the officer only has your general behavior as a basis for judging your sobriety. Lawyers can argue for days about why an officer’s judgment is insufficient to determine sobriety, and 99.99% of the time we will win.

Please, do not take the chance the first time. While you will probably be charged with a DUI for refusing to take a breathalyzer, you will not be convicted of it. Any lawyer will easily get the DUI charge dropped and you will only have the civil infraction to deal with. However, if you fail a breathalyzer, it’s almost impossible to escape the consequences that coincide.
Tact is for people who aren't witty enough to be sarcastic.

Post Reply