You’ve been out for a night of fun with your friends, and now you see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror. Is a DUI charge imminent? Even if you haven’t had a single drink, it’s important for you to be aware of your rights and what you should do to protect your rights.
In the state of Pennsylvania and all around the country, a police officer that pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence is likely to ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests are familiar to anybody who has watched commercial television or seen a movie: the screen versions involve walking a straight line, touching the tip of the nose from an arms outstretched position, or even reciting the alphabet backward. Though these tests may seem easy to pass while sober, there is no predicting how nerves, a physical condition, or even the officer’s subjective observations might lead to an incorrect observation that can be used against you as probable cause for a DUI arrest.
Under the law, you have a right to refuse to take a field sobriety test. You also have a right not to incriminate yourself, which means that you can politely refuse to answer questions about whether you have been drinking, what you have been doing, or where you have been before having been pulled over.
Though you can refuse to take a field sobriety test with no fear of punishment, that is not the case for refusing to submit to a chemical blood alcohol test using blood, breath or urine. When you applied for and received your drivers’ license, you agreed to submit to these tests upon police request.
Though you are legally permitted to refuse to take one of these scientific tests if the police do not have a warrant compelling you to do so, under implied consent laws there is a strong likelihood that doing so will result in you losing your license for a period of a year, with no exceptions made for driving needed to get to school or work. What’s more, if you are later convicted of a DUI charge, your refusal to cooperate in the blood alcohol test will work against you when it comes to sentencing.
If you have been arrested on DUI charges, the most important step you can take is to make sure you have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney acting as your advocate. Call the attorneys at Baer Romain & Ginty today to set up an appointment.