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What actions are OPTIONAL when pulled over for DUI inquiries?

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john maguire

Junior Member
I'm driving a car.
A police officer pulls me over (or I have to run the gauntlet at a DUI checkpoint).
Can I refuse to do the standard field sobriety test* if I agree to submit to blood-alcohol testing (mobile unit or at a hospital or at the police station)?
Can I refuse to do BOTH the standard field sobriety test* AND blood-alcohol testing?


* FST = (a) stand on one leg with arms to the side, then suspend one foot above the ground about six inches, (2) walk a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other, (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus = follow a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
 


Just Blue

Senior Member
I'm driving a car.
A police officer pulls me over (or I have to run the gauntlet at a DUI checkpoint).
Can I refuse to do the standard field sobriety test* if I agree to submit to blood-alcohol testing (mobile unit or at a hospital or at the police station)?
Can I refuse to do BOTH the standard field sobriety test* AND blood-alcohol testing?


* FST = (a) stand on one leg with arms to the side, then suspend one foot above the ground about six inches, (2) walk a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other, (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus = follow a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
Is this a hypothetical situation?
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
I'm driving a car.
A police officer pulls me over (or I have to run the gauntlet at a DUI checkpoint).
Can I refuse to do the standard field sobriety test* if I agree to submit to blood-alcohol testing (mobile unit or at a hospital or at the police station)?
Can I refuse to do BOTH the standard field sobriety test* AND blood-alcohol testing?


* FST = (a) stand on one leg with arms to the side, then suspend one foot above the ground about six inches, (2) walk a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other, (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus = follow a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
All that is something you can easily google. There are tons of resources about DUI.
 

quincy

Senior Member
I'm driving a car.
A police officer pulls me over (or I have to run the gauntlet at a DUI checkpoint).
Can I refuse to do the standard field sobriety test* if I agree to submit to blood-alcohol testing (mobile unit or at a hospital or at the police station)?
Can I refuse to do BOTH the standard field sobriety test* AND blood-alcohol testing?


* FST = (a) stand on one leg with arms to the side, then suspend one foot above the ground about six inches, (2) walk a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other, (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus = follow a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
Yes. If you are pulled over by the police, you can refuse all testing - but there can be consequences to refusing, depending on the circumstances and the state.

Would you care to elaborate on your situation?
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
I'm driving a car.
A police officer pulls me over (or I have to run the gauntlet at a DUI checkpoint).
Can I refuse to do the standard field sobriety test* if I agree to submit to blood-alcohol testing (mobile unit or at a hospital or at the police station)?
Can I refuse to do BOTH the standard field sobriety test* AND blood-alcohol testing?


* FST = (a) stand on one leg with arms to the side, then suspend one foot above the ground about six inches, (2) walk a straight line with one foot directly in front of the other, (3) horizontal gaze nystagmus = follow a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
Yes, you can refuse the FSTs. No, they aren't just going to take you to the station for a test since the mandated chemical test is only required if you have been arrested. But, upon such a request they might be willing to administer a field preliminary breath test, or preliminary alcohol sensor (these go by different names, but are small handheld portable alcohol sensors used in the field).

If arrested, you cannot legally refuse the mandated chemical test.

So ... does this happen to you very often?
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
Again, while what CDW writes is true in MOST states. It is not true in all. There are a handful of states where PBTs are mandatory (or have penalties for refusal) for some if not all drivers.

In Alabama and Florida younger drivers (under 21) must submit to a PBT.

Alaska require any age driver to take the test. It's a misdemeanor to refuse.

Michigan penalizes refusal to take the test with a civil citation.

Montana will suspend your license for a year if you refuse the PBT.

Nebraska issues a traffic infraction if you refuse.

Refusing some roadside tests in NY may result in a two-point penalty.

North Dakota will treat the PBT refusal as evidence of a DUI (unless you subsequently submit and pass a chemical test).

In various states, the PBT even when optional can be used on a per se DUI charge. In others, it's just supporting evidence or probable cause to make the arrest. In a few others, while there's no penalty for the refusal, the fact that you refused can be used against you. In other states, the PBT is entirely inadmissible for any purpose.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
There's MANDATORY, and there is PERMISSIBLE. I'm not arguing that there are situations in some states (including CA, by the way) where a PBT cannot be refused, but, I am unaware of any state where the police are required to utilize a PBT. The OP's query was whether the police could allow him to take a PBT in lieu of the FSTs, and the answer to that is almost always going to be, "Maybe." Not every officer will have one in the field, not every department will have a policy permitting the use of the PBT by itself or absent other criteria, and not every officer is going to want to rely solely on the PBT (indeed, may not be able to legally rely on it).

If the OP does not want to submit to the FST, he can decline. The matter will then be resolved based upon whatever other observations the officer might have.
 

HighwayMan

Super Secret Senior Member
The OP's query was whether the police could allow him to take a PBT in lieu of the FSTs,..
He didn't specifically ask about a PBT, he said "mobile unit or... at the police station". Plus "mobile unit" can be ambiguous since some departments do have mobile testing vehicles equipped with full-blown breath test equipment.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
He didn't specifically ask about a PBT, he said "mobile unit or... at the police station". Plus "mobile unit" can be ambiguous since some departments do have mobile testing vehicles equipped with full-blown breath test equipment.
I don't know anyone who would take someone to the station for a voluntary test ... there are so many potential problems with that scenario that I wouldn't approve of it if asked. The PBT, sure. That's possible ... if otherwise permitted and available. But, if the ONLY thing you have to rely upon for a DUI arrest is the PBT, you may have a serious problem at court. (aside from those few legal circumstances where the PBT is legally considered reliable ... out here, for underage DUI and DUI probation violations, to name two.)
 

quincy

Senior Member
I believe there can be legal problems with DUI checkpoints. John Maguire mentioned checkpoints in his original post.

Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 US 444 (1990): https://www.oyez.org/cases/1989/88-1897

Although the US Supreme Court said that DUI sobriety checkpoints do not on their own violate the 4th Amendment, some states have statutes that prohibit these checkpoints and in other states, sobriety checkpoints violate state constitutions.
 
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CdwJava

Senior Member
Checkpoints and the laws governing them vary a good deal by state. I don't like DUI checkpoints for a number of reasons, bit the least of which is the potential legal challenges to a detention at one. If you have a driver passing through, you smell alcohol and see bloodshot eyes, and they decline any FSTs or further inquiry, what then? Are those two observations sufficient to support a prolonged detention or ask them to exit the car? Maybe ... maybe not. It's too iffy for me.

Now, when I worked down south we caught more DUIs by setting up after the sign announcing the DUI checkpoint. It had to be set up in such a place as to allow driver's to legally avoid the checkpoint, but we found that a great many would decline to make the immediately available right turn and would, instead, flip a U-turn ... across a parallel set of double yellow lines! Such stops often resulted in DUI arrests for us. :)
 

quincy

Senior Member
Checkpoints and the laws governing them vary a good deal by state. I don't like DUI checkpoints for a number of reasons, bit the least of which is the potential legal challenges to a detention at one. If you have a driver passing through, you smell alcohol and see bloodshot eyes, and they decline any FSTs or further inquiry, what then? Are those two observations sufficient to support a prolonged detention or ask them to exit the car? Maybe ... maybe not. It's too iffy for me.

Now, when I worked down south we caught more DUIs by setting up after the sign announcing the DUI checkpoint. It had to be set up in such a place as to allow driver's to legally avoid the checkpoint, but we found that a great many would decline to make the immediately available right turn and would, instead, flip a U-turn ... across a parallel set of double yellow lines! Such stops often resulted in DUI arrests for us. :)
I know in at least one state that still permits checkpoints, signs announced sobriety checkpoints at Exit B but the checkpoints were set up at earlier Exit A instead. This was done because drunk drivers were known to exit early (before Exit B) to avoid detection.
 
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CdwJava

Senior Member
For me it was more fun to try and plan for the placement of the checkpoint and the "ambush" units rather than work the checkpoint.
 

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