When police officers stop you because they suspect you of driving while impaired, you can expect them to ask you to take several types of sobriety tests. Many people feel understandably reluctant to comply, thinking the test results may bolster the prosecution's case against them.
Unfortunately, refusing to take a chemical test generally creates more ammunition against you, not less. Louisiana's implied consent law states that, by driving on Louisiana's roads, you consent to a blood alcohol content test. Refusing can result in additional criminal charges, which can garner a conviction even if the original DUI case does not. Your refusal can also result in a driver's license suspension, the terms of which may vary.
Do not assume exceptions apply
The law also provides that the officer must have probable cause to stop you on suspicion of drunk driving and must warn you about possible legal consequences of refusing the test. If the officer had no probable cause or did not properly warn you, this may provide sufficient grounds to dismiss the refusal charges. However, at the time of the stop, you will not be in a position to make this legal determination. An experienced attorney can review your case, identify any issues with the officer's conduct and pursue an appropriate legal strategy.
Chemical BAC tests typically include blood, breath or urine testing. Most times, you will not have a choice of which test to take. While generally considered reliable, chemical testing does not mean ironclad evidence against you. Various factors, including operator error and medical conditions, may affect the accuracy of results.
Field sobriety test
The field sobriety test does not fall into the category of chemical testing. Thus, you have a right to refuse it. Standard field sobriety tests typically test for physical and cognitive impairment. Results may be compromised by insufficient expertise by the officer, medical conditions and even the clothing you wear.
Let your lawyer strategize an effective defense
Even when a chemical test returns a high BAC result, you should not assume you have lost your case. A DUI conviction can have far-reaching consequences. Working with a qualified defense attorney can help you protect your rights and reduce the negative impact on your life.