From the police officer’s perspective, the point of a traffic stop for suspected DUI is to find enough evidence to arrest the driver. Everything they ask, say or order you to do is designed to put you in jail if at all possible.
When you think about it that way, it can be tempting to say “no” when the officer tells you to undergo a breath test, especially if you don’t know if you would pass. What you do in that situation is up to you. But there are consequences for declining to take the breath test.
Implied consent to blowing into the machine
Like most states, South Dakota has an implied consent law. By driving on a public road anywhere in the state, you are by implication agreeing to submit to a DUI breath test when a police officer asks you to. Refusing triggers a 12-month suspension of your driver’s license and your refusal can be used as evidence against you at trial.
However, the law does not impose implied consent for field sobriety tests like the one-leg balance test and the walk-and-turn test. Whatever the officer says or implies, you have the right to refuse to perform these tests with no penalty like a license suspension.
Critics have called field sobriety tests highly subjective and unscientific when it comes to proving drinking and driving. The officer must rely on their judgment to decide if a driver has passed or failed. They also tend to ignore factors like road grade and conditions, time of day and whether the driver has a disability.
You might still get your license back
Whether you submitted to a breath test or not, if you have been charged with DUI, you could still have options for staying out of jail and restoring your driving privileges. Knowing your legal rights and DUI criminal procedures can go a long way toward finding a resolution that minimizes disruption of your life.