Northern Kentucky Drunk Driving Lawyer

The Complete DUI Refusal

As mentioned in my previous article DUI Refusal Consequences, there is a common misconception that a DUI refusal means only refusing the officer's request for a breath and/or blood sample. Due to this misconception, I witness many clients refusing these alcohol and/or blood tests but also performing field-sobriety tests. This in an incomplete method of refusal, and it means that the prosecution may still have the ability to convict you of drunk driving without the breath or blood test.

An Incomplete Drunk Driving Refusal

Prosecutors routinely obtain convictions based only on failed field-sobriety tests. In other words, even though the client refused the breath or blood test the prosecution can still obtain a conviction based upon the theory that the client showed signs of intoxication (smell of alcohol, slurred speech, etc.), failed the field sobriety tests, and then refused to take a breath or blood test. If you have considered the DUI Refusal Consequences and you are willing to live with those consequences, then you should not only refuse the breath and blood test, but also refuse the field sobriety tests.

What Are The Drunk Driving Field Sobriety Tests?

The field sobriety tests may consists of several of the following tests:

  • The broken alphabet test (say the alphabet starting at D and ending with Q, without singing the alphabet)
  • The countdown test (count backwards from the number 71 ending at 56)
  • The finger counting test (count beginning at 1 while touching the tip of each finger to your thumb)
  • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (focus on an object such as the officer's finger or pen, and follow it with your eyes without moving your head look right to left)
  • The one leg stand (stand on one leg with your arms to the side and count to 15)
  • The walk and turn test (walk heal-to-toe in a straight line for 10 steps, then turn and walk heal-to-toe in a straight line back for another 10 steps)
  • The finger to nose test (put your hands out to the side and then touch your nose with the tips of your finger)

It is rare that any person passes all of their field sobriety tests. Police officers are trained to strictly grade these tests.

What Are The Consequences of Refusing The Field Sobriety Tests?

A refusal to give a breath or blood sample results in a pre-trial suspension of your license with no hardship privileges. A refusal to take the field sobriety tests (in Kentucky), however, carries no penalty against your license.

Of course, if you refuse to perform any field sobriety tests and refuse giving a breath and/or blood sample, this does almost guarantee that the officer will arrest you for suspicion of drunk driving. The officer will argue that since you are not willing to prove your sobriety then he has no choice but to take you to jail. The refusal of the field sobriety tests and the refusal of the breath and/or blood tests will not likely prevent you from getting arrested, but it does give you your best chance at avoiding a drunk driving (DUI) conviction.

Executing a Complete DUI Refusal

So, how should one execute a complete refusal? Answer the officer's questions as simply as you can. The less words you speak, the less likely there will be allegations of slurred speech. When asked to perform field sobriety tests respond simply but respectfully, and decline to perform the tests. When asked for a breath or blood sample, again respectfully but simply refuse the tests. Remember, there is a good chance that you are being recorded during this interaction, so behaving simply and politely avoids showing signs of belligerence, slurred speech, or other signs of intoxication. If and/or when you are placed under arrest for suspicion of drunk driving, walk in a straight line to the police cruiser. Say nothing in the cruiser because what you say in the police cruiser can also be recorded. This complete DUI refusal method results in you doing everything in your power to limit the amount of evidence that can be produced against you in court. If you follow this method, you have given yourself the best chance of avoiding a drunk driving (DUI) conviction.


The Covington, Kentucky defense firm of Shannon D. Sexton, Attorney at Law, provides criminal defense representation to the people of Kenton County, Campbell County, and Boone County, including the communities of Covington, Dayton, Ludlow, Latonia, Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright, Villa Hills, Erlanger Crescent Springs, Alexandria, Bellevue, Fort Thomas, Florence, and Highland Heights and students at Northern Kentucky University (NKU).