What is the Standard Procedure for a DUI Traffic Stop?
Suppose a law enforcement officer stops you under the suspicion that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In that case, they may proceed to determine if you are, in fact, under the influence using various tactics.
Law enforcement officers follow various procedures to determine if a driver is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some of the procedures may include but are not limited to the following.
Field sobriety test (FST). A suspected drunk driver may be asked to complete a field sobriety test. A FST can include the officer looking for nystagmus or the involuntary, rapid movement of the eye. Alcohol can slow the eyes’ ability to track objects, causing them to look like they jerk around or oscillate as they attempt to track objects. During a nystagmus test, the officer may have you follow an object, like a pen or light, with your eyes while they examine your eye movement.
The officer may have you do a walk-and-turn test, first demonstrating the test while giving you verbal instructions. They will then have you repeat their actions while following their instructions. The officer will examine your movements, watching your ability to follow instructions, speak aloud, and maintain balance.
The officer may ask you to stand on one leg while counting out loud and then switch legs and count out loud again. They will examine your ability to follow instructions and maintain balance.
The officer will ask for these exercises in an attempt to establish probable cause for an arrest.
At this stage of a field sobriety test, the officer will determine if they should administer a breathalyzer test. This device measures a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) through a long, measured breath. They are looking for results over 0.08% blood alcohol percentage. 0.08% BAC is the national standard for determining if someone is over the legal limit. There are some variances in this number, such as for commercial drivers or minors.
What if I Deny a Breathalyzer Test?
If you refuse to take a chemical BAC test, like a field-administered breathalyzer, you may be charged with a DUI refusal.
Suppose you are subject to a DUI refusal. In that case, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend your license or right to operate for a minimum of 180 days for the first offense. These penalties scale with each successive violation with a suspension of up to three years for your second violation and up to five years for the third offense.
You can receive a lifetime suspension for refusing a breathalyzer with three prior DUI convictions.
An officer must inform you that refusing to take a breathalyzer test may result in penalties, from a license suspension of 180 days to a lifetime suspension. If they fail to do so and you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, MassDOT should not be able to impose any suspension penalties.
Can I Defend Against my DUI Refusal Charge?
If you have been pulled under the suspicion of driving while under the influence, and you refused to take a breathalyzer test, resulting in a DUI refusal charge, it is imperative to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately.
While defending against a DUI refusal may be a difficult task, there are still rules and regulations that the charging officer must follow. The case must be well documented, you have to be informed of the potential consequences for denying a chemical BAC test, and the legal process must be conducted in accordance with Massachusetts DUI Law and Regulations.
It is important to remember not to speak to law enforcement officers more than necessary. Do not admit guilt to anything, and follow their instruction to the best of your ability. As soon as it is safe to do so, call the Law Office of Brian Simoneau, P.C., at 508-625-5776 to schedule an obligation-free case evaluation. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule your review.