The penalties for being pulled over for drunk driving in Indiana are harsh, even before conviction. Once arrested, you will be jailed if your blood alcohol results show that you are intoxicated. Some people may refuse to take the tests that the officer requests. It is important to know the best way of handling such a situation if you want to be able to the fight charges and penalties later on.
Establishing probable cause
Because taking sobriety tests can lead to conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence (OWI), many people will refuse them. What people do not realize is that there are penalties for refusal, and they can still be convicted even without the test results.
When you are initially pulled over, the officer suspects that you are intoxicated based on his observation of unusual behavior, such as erratic driving or traffic violations. What happens from that point on is done so that the officer can gather enough evidence to make an arrest. If he sees that you have bloodshot eyes or slurred speech, he may ask you to submit to field sobriety and breathalyzer tests.
It is important to know what happens when an individual refuses these tests. They can refuse a field sobriety test without any legal consequences, but they must take the portable breathalyzer (PBT) test to determine if blood alcohol levels are .08% or more. Many people do not realize that they can be arrested even without taking the PBT, and a refusal can be used as evidence against them if they are charged with an OWI.
Implied consent laws
In all states, driving on a public road is considered to be a privilege, not a right. Every time a driver goes out on the road, he is implicitly giving consent to take a PBT should a police officer pull him over. Implied consent laws have varying degrees of severity, but in Indiana the penalties for refusal include:
- Automatic suspension of driver’s license for one year
- Suspension of restricted driving privileges, even if found not guilty of an OWI
- Conviction of an infraction
- Refusal to submit admissible as evidence
It is important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. Preparing a defense against an OWI, or mounting an appeal to a conviction, requires experienced legal representation that can help you fight for your rights.