First, let’s talk about various types of OVI tests that a law enforcement officer may ask you to take.
If you are asked to take a Portable Breath Test (PBT), you can, and should, refuse to take the test. Even if you take the Portable Breath Test, the test results are inadmissible under Ohio law.
There are no consequences for refusing the PBT. However, do not expect the officer to simply allow you to drive away.
Field sobriety tests used by law enforcement, such as the Walk & Turn test, the One Leg Stand test, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) eye test, serve only to provide the police with evidence to convict you of drunk driving.
They are rigged for failure, and many people are charged with OVI even after passing all of the field sobriety tests given by the officer.
You have the right to refuse these tests. There is simply no reason to provide law enforcement officers (and prosecutors) with evidence to use against you in an OVI case.
Be aware that refusing the FST’s will sometimes anger the officer, especially unprofessional police officers.
In Ohio, you have the right to refuse the chemical test (blood, breath, or urine) requested by a police officer in an OVI, but that decision comes with serious consequences. Keep in mind that if you fail one of these tests, it will result in severe consequences and will definitely make it more difficult to get a favorable resolution of your OVI case.
If you refuse or fail, the requested test, the officer will immediately suspend and seize your driver’s license. This is called an Administrative License Suspension.
The police officer suspending your license is required by law to advise you of the length of the ALS by reading you a form called a BMV-2255. However, most officers will NOT mention the license suspension required by an OVI conviction itself, which may be the same length as the ALS Refusal suspension.
All OVI convictions carry mandatory license suspensions of at least one year or more, depending on the level of the OVI. See our pages on OVI penalties for the various levels of OVI charges.
Refusing a blood, breath, or urine test will be used to enhance your potential sentence in an OVI case. However, it will most likely make it much more difficult to prove the OVI case against you, especially if you refuse all the requested tests, including the Portable Breath Test, the Field Sobriety Tests, and the chemical test. This will be even further enhanced if you declined to answer any questions posed by the officer.
You will still face OVI charges if you refuse the tests since most officers will be very upset when you deny them the opportunity to potentially convict yourself of an OVI.
A refusal will also enhance your OVI penalties if you have prior refusals on your record.
Keep a few other concerns in mind.
Refusing a chemical test is a trade-off.
If you refuse the test requested by the police, it will usually make it significantly more difficult to prove the OVI charges and easier for your attorney to get a better resolution of your case.
On the other hand, failing the test will have the opposite effect, making it much more difficult to overcome the charges and difficult to get a better plea bargain.
As you can see, it is important to have expert advice from a skilled OVI lawyer.
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The attorneys in our law firm primarily service Portage County courts (Ravenna and Kent) from our office in Ravenna, and Summit County courts (Akron, Stow, Barberton) from our office in Stow. Cases in all other courts in North East Ohio, such as Cuyahoga County courts, are handled under specific terms and conditions.