Drivers in New York may be unsure about their legal rights when they are pulled off the road by law enforcement. Nobody wants to face drunk driving charges, but what will happen if a driver refuses to submit to a field sobriety test? Refusing a blood or breath test might lead to losing driving privileges, but will the same apply to a field sobriety test?
It is lawful to refuse any test if the officer does not have a warrant. However, when a driver obtains a driver's license, implied consent laws allow the administrative suspension of the license if the holder refuses to take a Breathalyzer or a blood test. Implied consent does not apply for field sobriety tests, and no penalties for such refusal are mandated.
However, officers can quickly obtain warrants, and they typically do not take kindly to drivers who refuse to be subjected to field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to establish whether a driver is sober enough to continue driving, or whether a breath or blood test is required to determine the level of impairment. Drivers may not realize that an officer can arrest a driver who appears intoxicated, even without doing any tests. Signs that they will look for to establish probable cause include bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, difficulty standing and an alcohol odor.
An experienced New York criminal defense attorney can answer any questions about drunk driving charges and the right to refuse field sobriety or blood tests. Drivers can contact legal counsel if they are detained on suspicion of drunk driving. Having an attorney present during questioning can ensure the protection of the driver's legal rights at all stages of any legal proceedings.