Michigan’s drunk driving laws can be somewhat confusing. Can you still be arrested for drunk driving if you’re below the legal limit? Do your charges get harsher the more you’ve had to drink? Can you refuse to participate in a roadside sobriety test? These are just a tiny sample of the questions that our drunk driving defense lawyers get asked on a regular basis. Today we’d like to talk about that last one – refusing field sobriety tests – because it’s a really important topic! (Not that the others aren’t important too!)
So, can you refuse a field sobriety test in Michigan?
Yes, you can legally refuse a field sobriety test (FST). Michigan drunk driving law doesn’t require that you’re required to comply with a police officer’s request to perform field sobriety tests. So if you’re driving home from the bar, and a cop pulls you over and smells alcohol on your breath, chances are they’re going to tell you to get out of the car and “prove your sobriety” by standing on one leg or touching the tip of your own nose. But you don’t have to. In fact in many cases is a bad idea to agree to field sobriety tests.
Bear in mind, however, that refusing to comply might have other consequences!
So let’s say that was you. You drove home, got pulled over, refused to participate in the roadside monkey-walk. What now? Does the officer simply drive away and leave you because they can’t prove you’re intoxicated. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) But the answer is no. Just because you won’t perform, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.
Field sobriety tests are not the only tool that’s available to the police. They also rely on their sense of smell. Almost every police report that our attorneys see in drunk driving cases, says that the police officer smelled alcohol as he approached the defendant’s vehicle. Cops also rely on their sense of sight. Again, our criminal defense lawyers almost always see that police officers’ reports claim that the defendant’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. The policy also rely on their sense on hearing. Almost every drunk driving police reports indicates that the defendant’s speech was slurred.
But don’t worry, all is not lost!
While the prosecutor will try to sway the court against you for having slurred speech, watery eyes and the smell of alcohol on your breath, (that’s their job, after all!), your defense attorney can work to use it to your advantage! For example, if the case warranted it, your attorney could argue that those things never happened at all.
Field Sobriety Test Laws are not the same as Blood Alcohol Content Testing laws!
At this point we feel it’s important to point out that while you’re legally allowed to refuse a field sobriety test, you shouldn’t make the same assumptions about breath tests or blood tests! Currently, Michigan law requires that anyone arrested for drunk driving be required to take a chemical test to determine their bodily alcohol content (BAC). The test can be either a DataMaster breath test, or a chemical analysis of your blood or urine. Pay attention here. You have to submit to testing after you’ve been arrested but not before you’ve been arrested. That usually means that you can refuse the preliminary breath test (PBT) at roadside but that you cannot refuse the actual real breath test at the jail or police station. And in most cases, you must allow your blood to be drawn if you’ve already been arrested.
If you refuse to take the test after you’ve been arrested, you automatically receive six points on your driving record, plus your driver’s license will be suspended for a full year. This is a non-negotiable punishment! So don’t confuse the two!
Do you need a DUI defense attorney in Michigan?
If you or a loved one have been arrested for drunk driving in MIchigan, you’re going to need a skilled DUI defense attorney on your side! Drunk driving is dealt with very harshly here in the Great Lakes State, and only an experienced OWI defense attorney can help you get the best results in your case. So call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. THis is what we do – and we do it really well! In fact we’ve been defending drunk drivers for a quarter of a century.