Refusal of all field sobriety and breath tests in field and station.

I was driving my intoxicated friends vehicle, when we were pulled over for crossing the fog line, per the officer 3 times. The officer approached the passenger side of the vehicle, where I had rolled the window (electric) down about half way. I told the officer, my friend was sick and I was taking him home. He asked me how much I had to drink and I told him zero. He said he smelled alcohol and asked me to step out of the vehicle. I told the alcohol odor was from my friend. He asked i do the field and blow test. I declined, He arrested me and took me to the station. After consulting a on call public defender, I refused the 2nd in station breath test. What are my chances of beating this DUI. I have a otherwise clean driving record.

Washington -

Attorney Answers (3)

Nicole Terece Dalton

Nicole Terece Dalton

DUI / DWI Attorney - Vancouver, WA
Answered

In Washington State, you are not required by law to perform field sobriety tests. Opting out was a good decision. From the facts you describe, it sounds like the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you and a good trial lawyer should be able to do well for you on these facts, despite the refusal. It is a good idea to speak with someone right away, in part, because Washington law allows you 20 days to request a hearing on the Department of Licensing suspension action that will follow as a result of a refusal to give a breath sample. An experienced lawyer should be able to make good arguments for the DOL hearing as well as in the criminal case with the facts you describe.

Deirdre Lynn O'Connor

Deirdre Lynn O'Connor

Criminal Defense Attorney
Answered

if you have a good trial lawyer, you have a very good chance. The driver was not terrible and can be easily explained. There is no evidence of intoxication or impairment.

I think you can expect the officer to say he smelled the alcohol coming from your breath, he may also claim that your speech was slurred or gait unsteady. the dash camera, if available, will be very helpful in this regard (assuming you were steady on your feet).

so all you need is a good trial lawyer. interview 3-4 lawyers (most will offer a free consultation) and find out how often they are in trial and how well they do once in trial. how many cases are they getting dismissed before trial? what kind of deals are they getting for their clients? get specifics from the lawyer about what s/he will do in this case to get it ready for trial. a good lawyer will have no trouble/problem answering these questions.

Karyn T. Missimer

Karyn T. Missimer

DUI / DWI Attorney
Answered

I agree with the first answer. You may have valid defenses, and you may be able to beat the charges.

In some states, however, such as WI, you do not have the right to a jury trial for a refusal, just a hearing before the court. And that hearing may be limited to certain defenses. (Although, whether the officer had enough information to arrest you is generally one such defense; and it is arguable based on the facts you posted whether the officer had enough information to arrest you in this case.) If you lose the refusal hearing, the refusal can then be used as evidence in the DUI case, and the prosecutor can use that evidence as "consciousness of your guilt." Further, if you go down on the refusal, you would likely suffer penalties similar to that of a DUI, which may make winning the DUI a moot point for you.

Some states have strict and quick deadlines about when you need to request a hearing on a refusal. Contact a local, experienced DUI attorney immediately to make sure, if such deadlines exist in your case, they are complied with. You may find a local, experienced DUI attorney through the National College for DUI Defense: www.ncdd.com. Most initial consultations are free. So, you have nothing to lose!

Good luck!

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