On behalf of George Law, posted in blood alcohol tests on Monday, March 5, 2018.
If you are ever pulled over because an officer suspects you are driving under the influence, there are probably many questions running through your mind. Most of these questions likely revolve around what your rights are under Michigan law.
One option you may have considered is refusing to consent to a sobriety test. If you don't consent, they can't prove anything, right? Unfortunately, this option is not necessarily available to Michigan drivers.
Implied consent for chemical tests
Michigan has an “implied consent” law, which means all drivers have given their consent to a chemical test simply by getting behind the wheel. A chemical test is on a driver's blood, breath or urine.
The act of refusing a chemical sobriety test comes with its own penalties outside of those for a DUI. Six points are added to your driving record and your license will automatically be suspended for one year. You can appeal this charge by mailing a request for a hearing, which must be mailed within 14 days of the date of arrest, and an attorney may represent you at the hearing.
What about a field sobriety test?
Field sobriety tests are not covered under the implied consent law because they are not chemical tests. Therefore, you have every right to refuse a field sobriety test. In fact, it may be beneficial to refuse a field sobriety test. While Michigan has a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Program (SFST), there is still room for subjective evaluation on the part of the officer.
It is likely that if you refuse a field test, the officer will immediately ask you to take a chemical test, which you cannot refuse. But if you are under the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level, a field sobriety test won't be able to prove that like a chemical test will. Refusing the subjective test in favor of one with a more concrete conclusion could work in your favor and avoid an unnecessary OWI charge.