If you are driving after even ONE drink, you must remember your rights in Ohio. First, you have the right to remain silent. You have the right to refuse any breathalyzer testing. Most importantly, you have the right to call your Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney, right there, on the spot. I preach this weekly. It’s amazing how people get “scared” into speaking and taking tests. If a person refuses the tests, their license is suspended – imposed by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles while the officer is acting as the BMV’s agent in the suspension.
The following is an article from Cleveland.com
When former Cleveland Browns star Bernie Kosar was pulled over on the morning of Sept. 29 in Solon for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, he refused to take a breath alcohol test, telling the police officer who pulled him over that he had been advised never to take one. Prosecutors in the case will still have the results of field sobriety tests to submit as evidence, but Kosar’s refusal to take the breath alcohol test will deprive them of another piece of evidence, said John Garmone, the deputy clerk for the Bedford Municipal Court, where Kosar will appear on Dec. 9.
“If you don’t have the test (a prosecutor) can’t use it as evidence against you,” Garmone said. “They have to go more on the roadside sobriety tests.” For that reason, Garmone said, many attorneys will advise clients to refuse a breath test, which is generally considered a more compelling piece of evidence that the results of other sobriety tests. Drivers who are pulled over for suspected drunken driving have the right to refuse to take any sobriety test, law enforcement officials said. The breath test, however, is considered scientific, while the results of other sobriety tests are not, attorneys said. There is no statewide department that keeps statistics on how many drivers pulled over for suspicion of driving drunk refuse to take the breath test, said Lt. Anne Ralston, spokeswoman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, but local law enforcement officials say it happens roughly half the time. Fewer drivers refuse other sobriety tests, local law enforcement officials said. Ohio, like many states, has taken measures to encourage drivers to take the breath alcohol test if they are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving, because having a blood alcohol reading on record is considered more persuasive to juries than a drivers’ inability to stand on one leg or recite the alphabet, officials said.
“What you have with the breath test is a quasi-scientific piece of evidence,” said Bob Walton, a Cleveland-area criminal defense attorney. “That type of evidence is pretty harmful (in a trial).” Without the results of a breath alcohol test, a prosecutor still has the results of other sobriety tests, he said, which, while compelling, are not considered scientific. “Around half” of drivers pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence refuse the breath alcohol test, said Guy Turner, the public information officer for the Westlake Police Department.
“The state has tried to increase that percentage by imposing more restrictions on your license if you refuse the test,” he said. “But it’s too early to tell if that’s working.”
Drivers who refuses to take the test will automatically have their license suspended for one year, as opposed to a 90-day suspension for suspected drunk drivers who do submit to the test. But in 2008, Ohio made the suspension longer for anyone with prior drunken driving convictions who refuses to take the breath alcohol test. A refusal to take a test can also be submitted as evidence in a jury trial, Walton said, unless the defense can prove the defendant had a legitimate reason to refuse to take it. “But they have to prove it wasn’t just the defendant’s guilty mind that prompted him to refuse,” he said.
An arrest for suspicion of drunken driving has two phases, said Anne Ralston, a spokesperson for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the breath test is typically administered in the second phase. The first phase is immediately after the stop, when the officer decides if the driver is intoxicated based on observations, she said. Officers note if the driver has slurred speech, or the inability to perform basic functions such as walking and turning, or following an object with their eyes.
The second phase generally includes a chemical test, which can be a breath alcohol test, a blood test or a urine test, but officers generally only take a urine or blood test if they think drugs are involved, Ralston said. Kosar was put through several field sobriety tests on Sept. 29, according to reports. He was asked to recite the alphabet, which he was unable to do, and asked to follow an object with his eyes, a report said. The arresting officer noted in the report that Kosar was unable to follow the object smoothly.
The Bottom Line: Remember that you never have to perform any field sobriety tests. You need to only call your criminal defense attorney in Ohio. No matter the time, put my number in your mobile:513-260-2099
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