Person handing another person a breathalyzer

Understanding DUI Tests

Guilfoil Law Group Dec. 28, 2021

If you are faced with charges in Missouri for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), you must learn more about your rights and responsibilities under state DUI laws. Your actions before, during, and after you were stopped may alter the outcome of a DUI arrest. Understanding DUI tests are essential for your situation.

At Guilfoil Law Group, I am dedicated to serving DUI defense cases. My focused experience with DUI laws has provided me with a strong foundation of authority on the subject while changing the lives of my clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout the state in Platte, Clay, and Jackson County.

If You Drive a Vehicle in Missouri, You Consent to Testing

Operating a motor vehicle in Missouri gives implied consent automatically to test your blood, breath, saliva, or urine if requested by law enforcement during a legal stop. You can refuse the tests; however, there are consequences.

The Differences Between Blood Alcohol Tests and Sobriety Tests

The blood alcohol and sobriety tests determine if you are impaired, regardless of what your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at the time.

Field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate and misleading. There are multiple reasons you can perform poorly on a test when completely sober. These include fatigue, lack of coordination, physical disability or limitations, even the location and other circumstances of the field test.

An officer may ask you to blow into a portable breathalyzer during the stop. You can be subject to a second test if you are detained. In addition, the officer can require you to submit to a blood draw or saliva test where you are detained. These tests are designed to measure BAC to see if your content exceeds the legal limit of .08 for regular drivers, .04 for commercial drivers, and .02 for drivers under age 21.

There are strict procedures for equipment maintenance, calibration, and administration of these tests. Even if your BAC is above the legal limit, it is possible to challenge the results if procedures by the officer were not followed with precision.

Field Sobriety Tests

There are three field sobriety tests administered at a traffic stop to check for impairment, the following include:

  1. The officer attempts to gauge at the point your eyes begin an involuntary jerking motion, called “nystagmus.” The officer will ask you to follow a finger or object with your eyes without moving your head or body.

  2. During the one-leg stand test, the officer will ask you to raise one foot off the ground while your eyes remain focused on the raised foot. Your hands should be at your sides. You will be asked to count until the officer tells you to stop and put your foot down. This test is supposed to indicate your ability to count and keep your balance.

  3. Walking heel to toe in a straight line for nine steps, then turning around to do the same in the opposite direction is the walk and turn test. The officer gauges your ability to count correctly, keep your balance, stop as ordered, turn smoothly, and keep your feet in a straight line.

You can see how surface conditions for the field sobriety tests, bright or flashing lights, and your physical coordination, or lack thereof, can affect test results. So can the sheer anxiety caused by the stop.

Consequences of DUI Test Refusal

You can refuse a field sobriety test without penalty, and the refusal cannot be used against you as evidence of impairment. Should you refuse a test, politely decline the officer’s request to take one.

A blood alcohol content test is another matter due to Missouri’s implied consent law. There are consequences if you refuse to take a test, including losing your license for one year. Once you get your license back, you are subject to the installation of an interlock ignition device (IID) on the vehicle and high-risk insurance coverage. You pay all expenses related to both.

The refusal penalties are separate from a DUI conviction and resulting punishment. The prosecution will use your refusal as evidence of impairment to achieve a conviction for the actual DUI charge as well.

How Legal Representation Can Help

A conviction for refusing to take a BAC test and for DUI will affect your freedom, budget, employment, and personal relationships. Penalties for successive refusals and DUI result in significant penalties. However, DUI charges need to be defended, and you need to hire an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to help your unique situation.

At Guilfoil Law Group, I have the experience to mount challenges, weaken the prosecution’s evidence, and achieve the best result possible for my clients. I proudly serve clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout the state in Platte, Clay, and Jackson County.

If you have been arrested for DUI, get the best legal guidance possible. Call me at Guilfoil Law Group now.