If you’re driving along a Missouri roadway when a police officer attempts a traffic stop, your heart might start racing before you’ve even brought your vehicle safely to a stop. Your stress level might soar straight through the roof if the officer asks you to step out of your car because this is a sure sign that he or she suspects you of intoxication. It’s best to try to remain calm and to be keenly aware of your rights during a DUI stop.
Many people assume that they must do whatever a police officer tells them to do during a DUI stop. While it is true that you must exit the vehicle when instructed to do so, from that moment on, you have a lot of choices to make. For example, do you know that you can refuse to take a roadside breath test or field sobriety test?
There are no penalties for refusing a field sobriety or roadside DUI breath test
When you signed your Missouri driver’s license, you implied consent to take a chemical breathalyzer, urine or blood test following a DUI arrest. If police take you into custody and you refuse chemical testing, the court will suspend your driver’s license. However, roadside DUI breath tests and field sobriety tests are not chemical tests. Police use these tests to determine if there is probable cause to make a lawful DUI arrest.
If you refuse a roadside breath test or field sobriety test, there is no penalty for your refusal. Police cannot arrest you as a retaliatory action because you have refused a roadside DUI test. Not taking these tests during a traffic stop does not guarantee that you won’t face arrest anyway. Keep in mind, however, that there must be probable cause for an arrest to be lawful.
Is it better to test or not to test?
Arguments exist for both sides regarding whether it is better to comply and take a roadside DUI test or refuse to do so. Some people say that, since failing such tests constitutes probable cause for an arrest, it is always better to refuse. Others believe that refusing to take a preliminary alcohol screening test during a traffic stop makes a police officer think you are trying to hide possible evidence of intoxication.
What’s most important to remember is that you are free to decide whether to take a DUI test during a Missouri traffic stop or decline. Most drivers today choose to videotape all traffic stops, especially those involving suspicion of intoxication. If you believe an officer has arrested you without cause, you may bring the matter to the court’s attention.