Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in Louisiana. In Louisiana, an officer may stop you if they have probable cause to believe you’re operating a vehicle under the influence. They may then ask you to submit to a field sobriety test, which determines whether you’re impaired and the level of your impairment. If you fail this test, you may face DUI charges, which can have serious penalties if convicted.
Rather than taking your chances, you may refuse the field sobriety test. But what happens if you choose this option? Our Louisiana DUI lawyers at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can help you answer any questions you may have and will protect your rights every step of the way.
Louisiana’s Implied Consent Law
According to Louisiana’s Implied Consent Law, any individual operating a vehicle on a Louisiana road or highway is deemed to have consented to a blood, breath, or urine test. Therefore, officers can conduct a field sobriety test when they suspect drunk driving. However, you can withdraw your consent and refuse to submit to such testing, but this could lead to significant consequences.
Understanding Louisiana’s Field Sobriety Tests
Most Louisiana police officers will stop someone for driving under the influence when they see them swerving, speeding, or committing various traffic violations. After you stop, the officer will look for obvious signs of impairment. This can include slurred speech or the smell of alcohol.
If they suspect intoxication, the officers can conduct a field sobriety test. Louisiana law enforcement officers can use the following field sobriety tests to gauge a driver’s level of intoxication:
- One-leg stand: During this test, the driver is asked to stand on one leg and either count or recite the alphabet. This test assesses your balance and ability to follow directions with divided attention.
- Walk and turn: The officer will ask you to take a series of steps, then turn and take the same number of steps. They can then conclude that you’re intoxicated if you struggle to maintain balance, walk in a straight line, or keep track of your steps.
- Nystagmus test: This test involves tracking the movement of your eyes. An officer will ask you to follow their finger with your eyes while keeping your head still. It can be a sign of intoxication if you jerk your head while following their finger instead of gliding smoothly.
Unfortunately, you can still fail the field sobriety test and get DUI charges even when you’re sober. However, if this occurs, you can fight the DUI charges with the help of a lawyer.
Consequences of Refusing a Field Sobriety Test in Louisiana
Refusing a field sobriety test could result in serious consequences. However, you’re within your legal rights to refuse a field sobriety test, and in some circumstances, it may be in your best interest not to take these tests, but it’s important to know that it may leave you with penalties. Here are some consequences that may occur if you refuse to take a sobriety test:
- License suspension: Drivers who refuse to participate in sobriety tests could receive a license suspension of up to a year for the first refusal. However, a second and subsequent refusal within 10 years can attract a suspension of up to 2 years.
- Criminal charges: You may face criminal charges if you have two prior refusals or cause serious or fatal bodily injuries. These charges attract fines of up to $1,000 and 10 days to six months of jail time.
- Can be used at your DUI trial: Prosecutors often use refusals as evidence for a DUI offense. They may argue that the driver refused a field sobriety test to hide intoxication.
- No refusal enforcement: Louisiana has a no-refusal law. In these circumstances, the arresting officer may request a search warrant to obtain a blood test and determine the level of intoxication.
If you have refused a field sobriety test and are facing repercussions, reach out for legal help today.
Talk to a Louisiana DUI Lawyer at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm
Getting pulled over by the police for DUI suspicions can be stressful. However, knowing your rights on DUI tests can help you make the best decisions. Sobriety tests are far from perfect, and you have the right to decline them rather than risk arrest for DUI charges.
Therefore, it’s best to contact a skilled defense lawyer at John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm. Our experienced DUI attorneys can help fight test refusal claims and protect you from facing harsh penalties. We can also challenge the validity of your field sobriety test results if you decided to participate. Call us at (318) 377-1555 or fill out our form to make an appointment now.