It bears repeating that OUI arrests are down sharply over the past several years, but the chances of being arrested if stopped after drinking have increased. It is virtually impossible to “pass” field sobriety tests. Think of them as a complex game of “Simon says” with a risk of jail. They are administered to build evidence against a person when an officer suspects the person might be under the influence. Also, everyone has an absolute right not to discuss with an officer what he or she had to drink or what medications he or she is taking. Officers ask questions on these topics purely to gather evidence for the evidence pile. No matter how little a person says he or she drank, the officer takes it as an admission of alcohol consumption and discounts the stated amount as self-serving. Everyone says he or she had “two” or “a couple.” No officer takes that at face value. Of course, a person might deny consumption, which is an obvious attempt to deceive if the person smells of alcoholic beverage, or a person might honestly say he or she had 6 or 7 drinks, but that won’t help the person much either. The game is rigged, the deck is stacked, the house wins every time. It is best to politely express the desire not to speak about these topics and to decline to do field sobriety tests. People might as well face the fact that whether they answer the questions and take the field sobriety tests or not, it’s virtually certain they are going for a ride with the officer. When it comes to a breath or blood test, a driver has a duty to take one if there is probable cause to believe he or she has driven under the influence, which for practical purposes means the duty exists any time a person is asked by an officer to submit. Failing to submit to a breath or blood test will lead to a lengthy license suspension that will be added to any suspension for an OUI conviction. To recap, these days, when a person is stopped after drinking, the chances are extremely good that no matter what that person does or says, he or she will be taking a trip to the nearest Intoxilizer testing site. Once there, the person has a duty to submit to a breath or blood test- the officer gets to choose which. Up to that point, however, the person has no duty to answer questions related to consumption of intoxicants (including prescription medications) or to submit to field sobriety tests. The chances are extremely good that discussing drink consumption and taking field sobriety tests will only help the officer and the D.A. bolster their case for OUI.
This posting is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is not to be relied upon as such. The reader does not have an atttorney-client relationship with me as a result of reading this posting.