Can police prove a DUI without a chemical sobriety test?

May 2, 2023, 9:00 PM

field sobriety test...

Trooper Jared Garcia conducts a field sobriety test on a man in Murray Friday December 19, 2003. Photo by Jeremy Harmon (Submission date: 12/20/2003)

(Submission date: 12/20/2003)

SALT LAKE CITY — A 25-year-old woman charged with driving while under the influence and hitting and killing a bride on her wedding night, declined to take a chemical sobriety test after the accident.

This tragedy has left some people wondering how it is possible to decline a chemical sobriety test. KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas joins Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News to answer some questions.

To begin the conversation, Skordas tells host Jeff Caplan that it is legal to decline a chemical sobriety test.

“You can (decline), Jeff, you can in Utah and you, apparently, can in most other states,” he says. “Because a person has a right not to incriminate themselves.”

Skordas continues, saying the consequences of declining a chemical sobriety test after a DUI arrest are big. In Utah, he says, if a driver declines a sobriety test they will lose their license for 18 months.

“Even if they beat the DUI,” Skordas says. “… Even if they’re not drunk.”

No chemical test? No problem

If there is no chemical sobriety test, there is no blood alcohol level numbers in court. Can police still prove a driver was intoxicated? According to Skordas, yes.

“In fact, the police will normally do what they call field sobriety tests where they’ll have the person walk the line or hold their foot up six inches or have their eyes checked for what we call nystagmus, which is a twitching in the pupils,” he says. “Those are also signs of impairment.”

According to Skordas, the breath test or blood test are not necessary to prove a DUI.

“The law is are you under the influence. Not necessarily, are you over 0.5 or 0.8 or whatever the particular state requires,” he says.

If the police can show impairment, Skordas says, they can move forward with charges without a chemical test.

“We see those … all the time where people refuse to test,” he says. They just don’t realize the consequences are so huge.”

Listen to the full segment below.


Listen to Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News on weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Related: A bride killed on her wedding night in South Carolina had Utah ties

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Can police prove a DUI without a chemical sobriety test?