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What’s the Difference Between a Field Sobriety Test and a Test at a Police Station?

field sobriety test in virginia

Getting pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Virginia can be a terrifying experience. Maybe you’ve received speeding or parking tickets in the past, but these don’t come close in comparison to being arrested for drunk driving. The experience may be so unsettling that you end up agreeing to some tests that you aren’t required by law to take.

Virginia DUI law is quite complicated, and there are some tests that are voluntary and others that are not. The police can also place you under arrest for DUI whether or not you agree to any of these tests. There is a specific distinction between a Virginia field sobriety test and one taken at a police station.

Field Sobriety Tests in Virginia

Unfortunately, many drivers are not aware of their rights and either say too much or agree to take part in activities that could undermine their rights. In Virginia, you are under no legal obligation to participate in any field sobriety tests, and your refusal of these tests cannot be held against you in court.

A majority of roadside tests might be standardized, but most are not in your favor. Even completely sober people can have difficulty completing some of these tests, and there are medical conditions that can skew the outcome. Some of the most common field sobriety tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, One Leg Stand test, and the 9 Step Walk and Turn test.

Do You Have to Take a Roadside Breathalyzer Test?

Similar to those field sobriety tests, you are under no obligation to take a roadside breathalyzer test in Virginia. A police officer may present one of these to you and ask you to blow into the device, but this is a request, not a demand.

It’s important to understand that declining these tests doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are going to let you go. In fact, most will decide that you have something to hide and place you under arrest for DUI anyway. Once you are transported to the police station, this is where the rules change.

DUI Tests Taken at a Police Station

Once you’ve been arrested for DUI in the Commonwealth of Virginia and taken to the police station, you will be subject to the implied consent law. By accepting the privilege to drive in Virginia, you automatically give consent to law enforcement for a breath or blood test upon arrest for DUI. Most opt for a breathalyzer test.

This post-arrest test is taken on an Evidential Test Device (ETD). This test is administered within three hours of a DUI arrest. Before taking the test, a police officer should read you your rights as well as the notice regarding Virginia’s implied consent law.

A blood test is also a possibility but is less common. These are more often used in cases where the police suspect that you were driving under the influence of drugs. The police also have implied consent for this test, but no one can force you to take it. If you refuse either this test or the post-arrest breathalyzer, there will be consequences.

The Penalty for Refusing a Post-Arrest DUI Test

If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test after being arrested for DUI in Virginia, you will be charged with an additional crime. Your license will be automatically suspended for one year, and your refusal to take the test will be held against you in your DUI case. For these reasons alone, it’s not advisable to refuse these tests.

Speak with a Qualified Virginia DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia, your situation is serious. Even a first time offender faces penalties that can include jail time if convicted. Having a conviction on your record can have lasting consequences, and this is something that you should try to avoid with the help of an experienced and aggressive Virginia DUI attorney.

At Pack Law Group, our DUI defense attorneys understand what is at stake will and do everything possible to protect your rights and freedom. We will provide you with a strong defense and work on your behalf for a favorable case outcome.

Contact our Bedford office now at 540-586-7225 or reach us online to schedule an initial consultation.

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