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Know Your Rights: Richmond DUI Stops

If you are stopped by law enforcement and suspected of being under the influence, you still have certain rights that can not be violated by police. Below, a Richmond DUI attorney details these rights and discusses if there are any penalties to refusing sobriety and breath tests. Call today to learn more.

After a DUI stop, the officer will ask you if you’ve been drinking, they will ask you to conduct field tests. These tests can include reciting part of the alphabet, the walk and turn test or what is also called a Nystagmus eye gaze test where they hold a pen in front of your eyes.

They will also ask you to blow into a field test or a PBT, which gives an instant read out of your breath alcohol level. If there are indicators that you are intoxicated they will arrest you on the scene and then take you to the police station.

However, you have the right to refuse to perform tests at a Richmond DUI stop, and you do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle. We explore what your rights are at a Richmond DUI stop below, and what your rights mean in the context of an alcohol or drug-related DUI.

Consenting To a Search At a DUI Stop

You do not need to consent to a search after a traffic stop or during a routine traffic stop, as an officer must have probable cause in order to search your vehicle. That probable cause need can be the smell of drugs or actually seeing drugs or a firearm or something illegal in the vehicle.

You do not have to consent to a vehicle search during a DUI stop. If you’re arrested for DUI or there’s probable cause to believe you’re under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, an officer can conduct what’s called an investigatory search. This is basically a search to guarantee their safety, to ensure that there are no weapons or anything like that involved.

In addition, if you are arrested, the officer will then conduct what’s called an inventory search where your entire vehicle will be searched and anything found in the vehicle can be used against you.

Right to Refusal

Can You Refuse to Perform Field Sobriety Test?

Yes, you can. It’s your right to refuse to do the tests in the field.  However if you refused to take a breath test at Police Station you can be charged with refusal.

You also have the right to refuse to take a field breath test as the actual field breath test results will not be read in court but are only used to show if probable cause existed for an arrest on DUI.

A BAC Test?

If you refuse to take the BAC test at the Police Station in Richmond, it will it will result in a charge against you for refusal (pdf). A first offense refusal will result in a civil charge which has a possibility of twelve-month loss of license. If it’s a refusal based on a second offense DUI or even a second refusal, then it is no longer civil penalty, but a class 1 misdemeanor that carries the possibility of jail and a possibility of up to three-year loss of license.

Warrants in DUI Cases

If you refuse to allow officers to administer a blood test in some cases what an officer will do is attempt to obtain a warrant for your blood. Therefore if you consent to a search and the officer identifies the alcohol or drugs but you refused to allow for the blood to be drawn, the officer will then attempt to obtain a warrant.

Deciding Whether To Charges Someone With a Drug DUI

The officers will determine whether to charge someone on a drug-related DUI based on your driving, behavior, and performance on tests.  If the driving is erratic, if there’s an accident, or if there’s a high speed they will investigate the issue.

Secondly they will determine impairment based on the behavior of the individual, is there something wrong with their speech, their eyes, or obviously if there are any drugs found on the scene.

And then lastly, officers will determine whether to charge based on your performance on the field sobriety tests.