If I am Pulled Over for DUI, am I Required to Do a Breath Test?

When a police officer pulls you over, it can be scary. If you’ve had a few drinks, it can be even more so. If you’re pulled over for a DUI, a police officer must have probable cause to think that you are under the influence before you can be required to submit to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. One of the things most drivers wonder is whether they have to take a BAC test if they are pulled over. Here are some things to consider.

What to Do if You Are Pulled Over

Be respectful to the officer. You’ll draw more attention to yourself if you try to argue with him or her. Law enforcement officers are trained to expect the worst at any traffic stop. Put your hands on the steering wheel and tell the officer what you’re doing before making a move to get your license or registration.

You don’t have to answer questions about whether you’ve been drinking or not. In fact, telling law enforcement that you had a couple of beers at your buddy’s house may give them probable cause to arrest you. Miranda rights don’t apply until you are arrested. Your answers can be used against you as evidence in court until the police read you your Miranda rights.

Penalties for Refusing BAC Tests

You do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests can be unreliable, especially if you have knee or ankle problems. However, refusals can make the officer feel as if you are guilty. Sometimes the best course of action is to tell the officer that you’re only consenting because you feel threatened. Do the test and let the court decide if your rights were violated.

Chemical testing is a little different. Although you do have the right to refuse a BAC test, in most states, there is something called an “implied consent” law. This means that if you are driving a motor vehicle, you have already given your consent to a BAC test. If you refuse, you will face administrative penalties. Usually this means you’ll lose your driver’s license and face stiff fines to have it reinstated. This will apply even if you are found not guilty of DUI. Refusing chemical testing is separate from the DUI charge itself.

Should You Refuse a BAC or Not?

No one can tell you what to do in the heat of the moment. You have to make the best choice about refusing a BAC test or not. If you are arrested for DUI, ask to speak to a DUI lawyer, like a Civic Center San Francisco DUI lawyer, and don’t say anything else.

Thanks to The Hallinan Law Firm for their insight into what to do if you are pulled over for DUI.