There’s no doubt: getting stopped for an OWI is frightening. Perhaps you thought you were safe to drive or that you had only had a couple drinks.
What you do during your traffic stop can have a major impact on how your case plays out. Many people have heard the advice that you should refuse all sobriety tests in Indiana when you are stopped. This advice, while perhaps well-intended, is not necessarily the way to go. Doing so can leave you without a license.
Indiana Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Standardized field sobriety tests are used across the country to assess a driver’s impairment. It is important to remember, though, that these tests are not conclusive. They are subject to each officer’s interpretation.
Commonly used field sobriety tests include:
- Walk and turn. This test requires you to walk a straight line, stop at the end, turn, and walk back the opposite way. Walking too slowly, failing to stay on a straight line, or getting dizzy when turning may point to impairment.
- Nystagmus test. Wandering eyes are a sign of impairment. During a nystagmus test, the officer moves a penlight in front of your eyes and asks you to follow it. An inability to focus could be a red flag.
- Balance test. This test involves standing on one leg for a set period of time. Stumbling, leaning, or falling are all signs of impairment.
The evidence gathered from these tests can be used to arrest you. Refusing to take these sobriety tests in Indiana does not lead to an automatic license suspension. However, you may still be asked to submit to a chemical test and placed under arrest.
Blood Draws and Breath Tests
While refusing standard field sobriety tests does not lead to automatic license suspension, refusing a chemical test does.
Indiana has an implied consent law, which means that people agree to a blood or breath test as part of driving in Indiana if an officer suspects you are driving under the influence.
If you refuse such a test, your license is suspended for one year. If you have a previous OWI conviction, your license could be revoked for two years. Additionally, those who lose their license may not be able to get a hardship license.
Beyond the fact that you will have your license suspended if you refuse, you will likely still have to submit to a blood or breath screening. The officer can apply for a search warrant, which allows them to forcibly test you. When this occurs, you still lose your license and the court has evidence of your blood alcohol level, putting you in the worst position possible.
What to Do After an OWI Arrest in Indiana
After you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. There are many ways to fight the results of a chemical BAC test and get charges dropped. But without the help of an attorney, you have little chance of defending yourself.
The earlier you reach out to an attorney, the quicker they can begin collecting evidence and looking into different defense options.
Contact Hessler Law Today
Indianapolis criminal defense attorney Sean Hessler knows the flaws in OWI/DUI testing in Indiana. He will assess your situation quickly and fight vigorously to protect your rights and future.