Field Sobriety Tests (FST) are generally standardized tests which (some) officers have received training to administer and assist them in determining if a suspect is driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The three most recognized and used tests are: the walk-and-turn, one leg stand, and the eye/pen test. Other tests like the finger-to-nose and ABC may be used but are not considered standardized. You have no legal obligation to submit and may refuse them without legal penalty. The problem with submitting to these tests, even when you feel like you could pass them, is that you do not know what the officer is looking for and even if you “pass”, the officer may still be inclined to arrest you for DUI. There could also be other factors which make you “fail” them and the officer will only attribute your failure to your being OUI and charge you accordingly.
You should know that you have the legal right refuse the breath test but that you may suffer license suspension for 90 days or for 1 year as a result, in addition to the penalties and suspension discussed above for OUI. Mississippi law states that anyone who operates a motor vehicle has given their IMPLIED CONSENT to submit to the officer's request to take a test to determine their blood alcohol if that officer has probable cause and reasonable grounds to make such request. Your refusal will subject you to forfeit your license or driving privileges. However, you do have a right to request a judicial determination on whether or not your license should be suspended pursuant to your refusal.
In Mississippi, if you either refused to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, the state will attempt to suspend your license or privilege to drive for 90 days to one year. This attempt to take away your right to drive will occur PRIOR to any criminal trial for OUI. Filing a refusal petition does not postpone the suspension. The license you receive when there has been a refusal to take a state administered test is valid for only forty five (45) days from the date of the arrest. This license cannot be renewed or extended for any period of time.
The test refusal hearing is an informal hearing. There will not be a jury. The decision will be announced at the administrative hearing to agree with the State to suspend your license or to return it to you. The hearing is needed to determine if you will be able to retain your driving privileges until the end of your DUI case or if you will lose the right to drive in Mississippi prior to your trial.
The penalties for a DUI include:
2nd Offense (within 5 years):
3rd Offense or More (within 3 years):
Mississippi cannot suspend an out-of-state license; only your home state can suspend your license. Mississippi can only suspend your privilege to drive in this state. A refusal to submit to an officer's request for a breath, blood, or urine test MAY result in a suspension in Mississippi (if you are unsuccessful at the administrative hearing), but MAY or MAY NOT cause you to be suspended in your home state. The rules for handling a refusal report from Mississippi vary in each state. Some states do nothing in the nonresident driver's home state for a “refusal” to be tested in Mississippi.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified drunk driving lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local drunk driving attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.