A police officer pulling you over can be a nerve-racking experience. What kind of questions will the officer ask you? Will the officer suspend your driver’s license on the spot?
It’s not only the questions you’ll have to contend with. If an officer suspects you of drunk driving or operating while intoxicated (OWI), he or she may ask you to undergo some roadside tests. You technically can refuse to take the tests, but should you?
Types of roadside tests
If you get pulled over because an officer suspects that you’re impaired, you can expect to take the following roadside tests:
- Field sobriety tests: The officer will order you to perform several physical tests to gauge your sobriety. These include eye movements, walking and turning, standing on a single leg, etc.
- Breathalyzer: This device allows an officer to conduct a preliminary alcohol screening test on the driver. The officer will ask you to blow into the device, indicating whether your alcohol level exceeds the legal limit.
- Swab tests: The officer will obtain a mouth swab from you, then insert the sample into an analyzer that displays positive or negative results for up to six drug categories.
It should be noted that the officer selects which tests you will take in Indiana. You can’t choose, and you can’t consult with an attorney before participating. Refusing a test also doesn’t prevent you from getting an OWI charge.
Penalties for refusing to take a drug or alcohol test
You can choose not to take any of the roadside tests administered by the officer, but it will result in penalties. Refusal to submit to a test is considered an offense by state law, and your driver’s license will be suspended for a year. This is due to Indiana’s implied consent laws, which means that by driving on the state’s roads, you’ve automatically consented to chemical tests.
If you refuse a test with at least one earlier OWI conviction, your license will be suspended for two years.
Also, note that your refusal to take the test can be used as evidence in a criminal case.
In short, you should follow the officer who pulled you over and take whatever test they administer. It can be a problematic and embarrassing situation, but you stand to lose more for refusing than following the order. If your test comes up positive for any intoxicating substance and your case heads to court, consider taking on the services of an attorney who can stand for and guide you.