Whether you had one drink or several before getting behind the wheel, the red and blue lights on a police car may be the last thing you want to see in your rearview mirror.
The officer’s job is to get you off the road if you are a danger to yourself and others. Your job is to know your rights if you are facing charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test and insist on taking a chemical test instead. Refusing to take the field test does not give the officer probable cause for arrest, but failing one does. The field test includes things such as walking heel-to-toe and standing on one leg. These tests are more subjective and not scientific. People with naturally bad balance might not pass even if they were sober.
The law requires chemical sobriety tests such as breathalyzer, blood or urine, following a DUI arrest. If you refuse to submit to one, the court will automatically suspend your license for one year, regardless of the way your case turns out. Refusal means breaking the implied consent law in Pennsylvania stating that in exchange for the right to drive, you consent to having a chemical sobriety test.
Sobriety tests aside, the Fifth Amendment still protects you from self-incrimination. You can refuse to answer questions about where you’ve been and whether you’ve been drinking, as long as you do it politely.
Knowing your rights may keep you out of jail as long as you are respectful and cooperative in the process. If you aren’t, you will most likely get a ride in the backseat of a police car.