As a general rule, the answer is "No." There is no penalty for refusing field sobriety tests. If you refuse a breath test, you will have a longer license suspension than if you had failed. For first offenders, that means a one year suspension instead of a six month suspension, but you would still be eligible for a driving permit. Failure on the breath test makes it very difficult to win the DUI case; a refusal gives you a chance to win the case and apply for expungement.
Field sobriety tests are extremely subjective and it advisable to refuse the officer's request to take these tests. In addition, if you take and fail the breath test, you have provided the prosecution the most solid evidence they possess in the prosecution of your DUI case. As a first offender, if you refuse the evidentiary breath test at the station, your driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months. If you take and fail the breath test, you will be suspended for 6 months. You may be eligible to drive on a driving permit (MDDP) after the first 30 days of the suspension. This is a civil penalty and should not be confused with the criminal portion of your case (Class A misdemeanor). Of course, a petition to challenge the test should be filed by your attorney either way. A more lengthy response is required to address any specific situation.
The information contained in this answer is offered for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute legal advice, attorney advertising, or establish an attorney-client relationship. Individuals with questions in any area of the law should directly consult a qualified attorney licensed to practice in that individual's jurisdiction. www.davislascola.com
Refuse all tests and you give your lawyer a chance to win the case. The officer isn't giving you those tests to see if you're drunk. He's already made a decision and is gathering evidence to support your conviction
A DUI is really three cases, your car may be impounded, a state criminal penalty, and a civil penalty through the Secretary of State. There are certain occasions where taking a breathalyzer can have a silver lining to a potential punishment but in general you won't have every instance of when it may be slightly advantageous to blow. In general, when can you ever say you saw someone stopped by the police for something serious, they cooperate, then get let go?
I've had clients blow negligible, to 0.0 before and they were still arrested and charged. It then took a motion or subpoena for their blood test or breathalyzer results to get the charges dismissed. The main point is, you'll likely do more damage to your case by blowing then you will by refusing and asking for a lawyer quickly thereafter.
This message does not constitute legal advice, nor does it form the basis for an attorney client relationship. Paul M. Marriett is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Florida, and due to various changes in the law this message may not be up to date with current statutory requirements.