Understanding your rights when stopped for a suspected OVI, also known as a DUI, is important for your protection.
It is standard for officers to ask you to submit to testing at the scene, but how you respond can impact your case.
Can you refuse field sobriety testing?
You have the legal right to refuse field sobriety testing, a series of simple tests police ask you to do so they can observe your ability to comprehend instructions and maintain balance. They often use these tests to build a stronger case for an OVI charge.
There are many reasons you may want to refuse field sobriety testing. For example, someone who is not physically fit may struggle with some tests regardless of their level of sobriety. If pulled over in a busy area, it can be difficult to hear instructions. If you feel fatigued or anxious, you could easily make mistakes during the test.
What is Ohio’s implied consent law?
Ohio’s implied consent law states that anyone operating a vehicle on a public highway automatically consents to chemical testing to measure blood-alcohol content. However, that law does not take effect until a lawful arrest occurs. Therefore, if an officer asks you to submit to a breath test at the scene, you can refuse.
They must have reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence, and while they will likely still conduct an arrest, their case is significantly weaker without field sobriety testing and immediate chemical evidence.
An arrest is not a conviction, so politely going through the motions and knowing your rights could protect you.