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September 1, 2017 | admin When is it a Good Idea to Take the Field Sobriety Test in a DUI Stop?
A DUI conviction has the potential to seriously disrupt your life, which is why it is essential that all drivers understand their rights under California law. Especially important is knowing exactly what you should and shouldn’t do if you get pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. What you say and do can potentially have a huge impact on your ability to get the charges dropped, so you’ll want to be prepared.
Contrary to what most people think, you are not legally required to submit to a field sobriety test. This is essential knowledge since the field sobriety test can provide the arresting officer with additional evidence to strengthen their case and increase the chances of a conviction. However, there are certain situations where it may actually be in your benefit to take the field sobriety test.
Blood Alcohol Tests and California Law
California operates under the law of implied consent, which means that anyone who drives in the state automatically gives their consent to submit to a blood alcohol test when requested by a law enforcement official. Failing to comply with this request leads to a charge of DUI refusal, which carries with it additional punishments. However, this implied consent law only applies to blood alcohol tests given at the police station and not to field sobriety tests.
If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI, the officer will usually request that you perform a series of roadside sobriety tests and submit to a handheld blood-alcohol breath test—the dreaded breathalyzer. When this happens, it is essential to be prepared by knowing in which situations it is best to refuse this test and when you should definitely take the test.
When Is It Beneficial to Submit to a Field Sobriety Test?
In the majority of cases, it is best to refuse to take the field sobriety test to avoid providing further evidence that could potentially harm your case. Obviously, you should submit to the test if you haven’t actually been drinking since otherwise you’ll be facing a trip to the police station. There is also another possible scenario where its often a good idea to take the field sobriety test, and this is where it comes to a rising alcohol defense.
In a rising alcohol defense, your DUI defense lawyer will essentially argue that you were not yet intoxicated at the time of your arrest. If successfully argued, this could lead to the charges against you being reduced or dropped altogether.
What Is the Rising Alcohol Defense?
Although it may seem obvious, the law states that you must be intoxicated at the time you were pulled over in order to be convicted of a DUI. With the rising alcohol defense, your lawyer will argue that even though you had been drinking, you weren’t yet intoxicated at the time you were pulled over.
It takes some time after you have a drink for the alcohol to actually enter your bloodstream and make you intoxicated. In this case, if you had several drinks immediately before leaving the house and were then pulled over shortly thereafter, you might be able to successfully argue that you weren’t yet drunk. In some situations, it could take as long as an hour after you ingest the first drink to become intoxicated. Still, if you were pulled over before this time and the officer smelled alcohol on your breath, they could still use this as probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of DUI.
In this case, it would definitely be in your benefit to submit to the field sobriety test since your blood alcohol concentration might not yet be over the legal limit. If you refuse to take the field test, you will eventually be taken a police station and forced to take either a breath or blood test. The more time that passes in between your arrest and when you finally take the test at the police station, the higher your blood alcohol level will be.
The rising alcohol defense is based exactly on this situation, and the fact that your blood alcohol level is much higher once you reach the police station may allow your lawyer to successfully argue that you weren’t yet intoxicated when you were pulled over. Of course, the skill of your lawyer will be key to whether or not this defense is successful. Therefore, it is essential that you contact an experienced DUI lawyer to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the charges reduced or dismissed.