Do I Have the Right to Refuse Sobriety Tests in Ohio?
Ohio gives nearly all drivers the right to refuse sobriety tests. Exercising the right to say no when asked to perform field sobriety tests is a good idea with minimal legal consequences. You will be arrested, but you will likely be arrested anyway. Refusing to provide breath, blood, and urine samples for laboratory testing after being taking into custody under suspicion of drunk or drugged driving, however, can bring serious consequences. Is Field Sobriety Testing Mandatory in Ohio?
The Franklin County DUI defense attorney with The Maher Law Firm welcome this opportunity to share brief explanations of what can happen when you refuse tests designed to detect whether you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVI). You can learn more, and discuss your legal options if you have been charged with driving under the influence, by calling us at (614) 205-2208 or by requesting a free, no pressure consultation by filling out this online contact form.
Refusing to Do Field Sobriety Tests
Law enforcement personnel in Ohio cannot legally compel drivers they suspect of being drunk or high to walk a straight line, stand on one leg, or follow the movement of a penlight with only their eyes. Nor can any local police officer or state trooper force a driver to blow into a handheld breath-testing device.
People suspected of OVI cannot be arrested just for refusing to perform field sobriety tests. Further, even if a breath test is performed as part of the traffic stop or at a DUI checkpoint, no court will accept the readings from the handheld device as valid evidence for alcohol use.
That being said, as DUI defense attorneys in Franklin County, we want drivers to understand that simply saying no when asked to participate in field sobriety tests will not protect them from getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Officers and troopers will base their decision to pursue a drunk or drugged driving charge on many observations including how a suspect speaks, smells, moves, and responds to questions and commands.
Drivers who are being questioned during a traffic stop or at a checkpoint do themselves a favor by saying as little as possible and being polite when they do respond. Saying “I prefer not to do that test,” will suffice to communicate the intent without unnecessarily increasing tensions or suspicions.
Saying No to Breath, Blood, and Urine Tests
Ohio law enforcement officials can only take blood and urine samples for alcohol and drug testing at state-licensed facilities like hospitals and some police stations. A suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to refuse to volunteer information that may incriminate them allows the person to refuse requests to have blood drawn or to have a urine sample taken. The same right extends to a request to blow into a court-recognized breath testing device.
Before saying no to lab tests, however, a driver who is under suspicion for OVI may want to call to speak with a Franklin County DUI attorney. Lab test refusal will result in an automatic administrative license suspension (ALS). It will also result in at least a one-year disqualification for a driver with a CDL. A lawyer can offer advice on whether facing those penalties makes sense for a particular person and also assist with appealing the ALS to have it lifted.
Another consideration is that Ohio law permits law enforcement personnel to use “reasonable force” to draw blood from a suspect who already has two or more OVI-related convictions on his or her record. In spite of that, officers must still attempt to get a warrant prior to doing so. Call 614-205-2208 to speak to a Franklin County DUI attorney today.