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If I Don’t Take Field Sobriety Tests, Will I Lose My License?

Since no requirement exists for you to take any of the field sobriety tests, there is no automatic mechanism for the police to suspend your driver’s license if you decline attempting these evaluations. Any state that is so misguided as to pass a law requiring citizens to perform agility exercises or be punished would (by such enactment of legislation) abandon the Constitution’s protections for its citizens.

Having a driver’s license is a qualified right for you, one that can and can be continuously reviewed by the State that gave it to you. So, some states have begun adopting laws that are designed to FORCE a person to submit to some roadside evaluations that do not involve agility exercises. The type of roadside evaluation that most of the states are seeking is a preliminary breath analysis on a hand-held alcohol sensor. If your state has such laws, failure to blow into such a device may cause a proposed administrative license action, but only with an adequate reason to believe you are impaired, and only with notice to you and an opportunity to be heard.

Now, if you do not take the field sobriety tests, and you are eventually convicted of a DUI-DWI offense, you will lose your license as a part of that criminal court proceeding. However, that is likely months away from the time of your stop, and may never occur if an experienced DUI-DWI attorney helps you with your case.

If I Refuse a DUI Breath Test or Blood Test, Will I Lose My License?

In most states, if you refuse the blood, breath, or urine tests asked of you by the police, and the police take your driver’s license, you are still entitled to get a temporary driving permit after the officer takes your permanent license. This temporary permit is issued as a stop-gap authorization to allow you to drive until you can receive your administrative hearing. These temporary permits are often good for only 30 days. However, this legal period of time for you to drive on this temporary permit varies from state to state.

Almost always, the continuation of driving privileges only lasts until a decision is reached on your administrative license suspension or revocation AFTER you have properly and timely requested a hearing. Your DUI-DWI specialist can better advise you of the length of validity and restrictions applicable to any limited permit issued by your state.

A “summary” license suspension (or revocation) for refusal is not part of each state’s laws. However, you are entitled to a hearing to challenge the suspension or revocation. Every state has laws in place to take away your right to drive for refusing to submit to a legally authorized (i.e., the officer has reasonable cause to suspect impaired driving) implied consent breath, blood or urine test. You do, however, at the administrative hearing have the right to challenge the fact of whether or not you refused to be tested. If you lose the administrative hearing, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a prolonged period of time, typically a year. In many states, no “work permit” or limited license is available for such refusal suspensions.

Further Reading

For more information on field sobriety tests, take a look at one of our articles detailing specific aspects of these DUI tests below:

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