When police officers in Oklahoma pull over a motorist whom they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol, it is common to ask the driver to take a field sobriety test. In most cases, this field sobriety test will include a breath test.
Police officers do not possess the authority to force a person suspected of DUI to take a breath test. However, there can be consequences attached to a refusal to take any part of a field sobriety test.
The key to understanding the right to refuse a breath test is distinguishing the difference between informed and implied consent. Informed consent builds itself on the premise that all individuals have the right to determine what happens to their bodies. Individuals possess the right to know of any consequences regarding tests and procedures done to them. Informed consent must be 100% voluntary.
The implied consent concept is built on the premise that a person operating a motor vehicle on public roadways implicitly agrees to take any part of a field sobriety test if an officer who suspects them of DUI asks them to do so. However, the officer making the request must have probable cause to suspect that the driver is under the influence of a substance that affects his or her ability to drive.
It is legal for a motorist to decline a breath test, but in doing so, the driver is also acknowledging they understand and accept the possible consequences of their actions. It is also important for drivers to understand that refusing a breath test will not save them from arrest. The motorist can still face arrest if the officer in charge of the scene determines there is other evidence to show that the driver is impaired.
The application of implied consent to DUI is a complex area of the law that can differ from one case to another. Individuals who face charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance may find answers to the questions they have by speaking to an experienced DUI attorney.