According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, the state convicted 18,648 drunk drivers in 2019. Most of these convictions began with a traffic stop.
If you get pulled over by a law enforcement officer who questions your sobriety, you may not know what to do next. Whether you drank alcohol or not, it is vital to understand your rights and the consequences of your actions.
Roadside sobriety tests
A sobriety test is a group of physical objectives an officer may ask you to perform. Usually, a person who has consumed too much alcohol has difficulty completing the tasks. Legally, you can refuse to participate in a roadside sobriety test.
If you refuse the sobriety test or have difficulty doing it, an officer may ask you to take a breath test. Virginia uses two types of breath tests to measure blood alcohol content.
- Law enforcement officers administer preliminary breath tests at traffic stops. This test may not accurately show how drunk you are, but it does confirm the presence of alcohol. You do not have to provide a sample for this test, and the results are not admissible in court.
- An officer can still arrest you if you appear intoxicated. At the police station, law enforcement can require a more accurate breath analysis from you. According to Virginia’s Implied Consent Law, you gave permission for them to administer the test when you obtained a driver’s license. If you refuse, you automatically lose your license for one year in addition to any applicable DUI charges.
Not all DUI tests are mandatory in Virginia. Knowing which tests you can refuse may protect your rights in court.