Articles Posted in DUI Mistakes

Should I Refuse the Field Sobriety Tests?

If you are stopped and the police smell alcohol or marijuana, then there’s a good chance you will be asked to step out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. If you fail one or more of these tests, then you will probably be arrested for OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated.

Michigan has not made it unlawful to refuse field sobriety tests, and if you refuse them, then the police will not be able to use any poor performance against you at trial.  Your attorney might also argue that without field sobriety tests the police lacked probable cause to make a lawful arrest. If successful, your case could actually be dismissed.  So there is a real benefit to refusing the field sobriety tests.

On the other hand, the prosecutor might argue that you refused the tests because you knew you’d fail them.  This is sometimes called a “consciousness of guilt.” Much has been written about consciousness of guilt arguments, and some courts believe that these arguments violate due process.  For example, if you exercise your constitutional right to remain silent, this should not later be used against you.  However, other courts have held that so long as you are advised ahead of time that your refusal will be used against you, then there is no due process violation.

Assuming there is no defense: This mistake is number one for a reason, it is potentially the biggest mistake you can make.  EVERY DUI case can and should be defended.  It’s your Constitutional right.  A belief that your case can’t be defended can only lead to one result – guilty: and this is the very result you should be trying to avoid. Remember that it is unlikely that you will ever regret aggressively defending your case, but you certainly might regret not defending it!

If you’ve already retained an attorney, then your attorney should be talking to you about what defenses apply in your case. If your attorney is not doing this, then chances are pretty good that he/she simply doesn’t know how to defend your case. This lack of knowledge can be fatal to your case.

On the other hand, if you are interviewing possible attorneys to represent you, discuss with him/her what defenses apply in your case, and equally important, how likely these defenses are to meet with success. Select the attorney who seems to be the most knowledgeable and who has the most positive outlook and attitude. As you go through this selection process it’s best to always remember one thing, success can only happen when you believe in your attorney and your attorney believes in your case!

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