DUI Arrests and Field Sobriety Tests
Many people worry about what to do if they are ever pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence. Whether you have had a few drinks or not, it is important to know what you have to do during a DUI stop and what you can refuse. Some DUI investigations are initiated because the officer suspects that the driver is driving under the influence. But others begin as a normal traffic stop, initiated for a minor traffic violation. Those ordinary traffic stops can quickly turn into a DUI investigation because of the time of day or night, the location of the stop, the smell of alcohol, or because of various other factors. Some officers simply presume that if you are driving past 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m., particularly on a weekend, that you must have consumed alcohol prior to driving.
If you are pulled over and the officer asks you if you have had anything to drink, you are now the subject of a DUI investigation. If the officer asks you to step out of the car, you must comply. However, if he then asks you to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), you can refuse. And if you have consumed alcohol, you should refuse. While a PBT is not admissible at your DUI trial, PBT results can form the basis of an officer's probable cause to arrest and will be admissible at preliminary hearings regarding probable cause or a statutory summary suspension hearing.
If you are asked to submit to field sobriety tests, you can refuse. Many people know that they can refuse a breathalyzer test, but most people don't know that they can refuse field sobriety tests. The officer is not required to tell you that you can refuse. In fact, the officer will likely put a lot of pressure on you to submit to the tests. Again, if you've consumed alcohol, you should refuse. Field sobriety tests are another way in which an officer tries to establish probable cause to arrest you. Unlike PBT results, the officer's interpretation of whether you passed the field sobriety tests will be admissible at your DUI trial. Moreover, the officer's interpretation of your results is subjective. If you end up being placed under arrest, you failed the tests. Even if you refuse, you may still be placed under arrest. However, you have now lessened the evidence the officer has against you for the prosecutor to present at trial.
While under limited circumstances, it may be beneficial to submit to a breathalyzer test (for example if you have consumed NO alcohol), it is almost never advantageous to submit to field sobriety tests. They are an evidence gathering tool and they are difficult to perform even for people who are sober. Why help an officer collect evidence against you?
If you have been arrested for DUI in DuPage, Will, Cook, Kane, or Kendall Counties, contact Aldrich & Siedlarz Law today. We offer a free consultation and are experienced in handling DUI defense cases, including pretrial motions such as Petitions to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspensions and Motions to Quash Arrests.