Can I refuse the standardized field sobriety test or the breathalyzer test?


can i refuse a breathalyzerStandardized field sobriety tests (SFST) and breathalyzer tests are used by law enforcement officers to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The SFST are scientifically proven to confirm intoxication. Additionally, a vast majority of SFST results administered by law enforcement officers are accepted as evidence in court.

Upon being stopped for a suspected DWI/DUI, you have the right to refuse the SFST and breathalyzer test. However, there may be consequences to your refusal. 

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How Refusing the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and the Breathalyzer Works

In Louisiana, a driver can refuse the SFST at any time without penalty. However, if you refuse any type of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests, you will face penalties as defined in the Implied Consent Warning (these penalties are required to be read to you by the officer prior to the breathalyzer test being administered). It is imperative you hire an attorney immediately because if you don’t appeal the automatic suspension of your license within 30 days of your arrest, you lose the right to appeal your suspension and the suspension goes into effect. If you file an appeal though within 30 days, the suspension is stayed and this allows you to continue to drive legally in most cases while the matter is challenged in court. 

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Consequences You May Face When Refusing All BAC Tests

For refusal of BAC tests, you will face an automatic license suspension. If it is your first time refusing BAC testing, you will have a shorter period of time without a license and have a better chance of getting it back quicker.

If you’ve refused BAC tests in the past, you could experience a greater penalty. It is a crime to refuse BAC testing more than once and you could be facing fines and/or jail time.

In addition, if you’ve been involved in an accident, are suspected of driving while intoxicated and refuse BAC testing, you can face fines and/or jail time depending on whether there were any injuries and/or deaths.

How the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Work

The SFST are used to assess the coordination, balance, and ability of the driver to multitask. SFST are divided into three testing areas, including:

  • The walk-and-turn test involves the officer instructing the driver to take a series of steps by placing your heel to your toe and turning to repeat the series of steps;
  • The one-leg stand test involves the officer instructing the driver to stand on one foot while holding (and keeping) the raised foot at least six inches off the ground while counting out loud until told to stop;
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test involves following a point with your eyes

The SFST can be administered before or after a BAC test. Still, SFST are typically conducted and used to develop probable cause for arresting an individual prior to the officer requesting they submit a breath sample/take the breathalyzer.

How a Breathalyzer Test Works 

When using a breathalyzer, a person inhales into the test chambers through a mouthpiece that is filled with liquid potassium dichromate, which is a dark orange color. The alcohol from the person’s breath reacts with the potassium dichromate and turns it green. 

The change in color determines the amount or level of alcohol that is present in the person’s breath. It is converted into a numerical value, which is the person’s BAC level.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Upon a potential DWI/DUI charge, a person should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. A top DWI/DUI attorney will fully protect your rights during every step of the process, helping you get the best result possible for your case.

A DWI/DUI conviction or a penalty for refusal of BAC testing can result in fines, jail time and more. When your future is at stake, The Johnson Firm can help you navigate the ins and outs of Louisiana state laws.

Contact The Johnson Firm today. Our team knows that getting arrested for driving under the influence is devastating, affecting not only you but your employment and driving privileges. Let our team take the reins of your case and guide you every step of the way. 

Call (337) 433-1414 or send us a message now to get your consultation today.

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