Know your rights: Can you refuse a breathalyzer?

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Lamar County Deputies Michael Green and Charles Reid are out nearly every Saturday night.

"Well, a lot of times we do traffic stops just to monitor our traffic enforcement here in the county, and as well we do safety check points at certain locations, and different locations through out the night," said Reid.

Their day starts at 3 p.m. and they can only hope that it ends 3 a.m. the next day, but when night falls another title they have kicks into high gear.

"DUI Enforcement Lamar County Sheriff's Department," said Reid.

They see it all the time. People have a couple of drinks at home or at a bar, they think they're ok to drive, then they meet the deputies at a check point. When this happens, Reid says, they are looking for a few things.

"The smell of alcohol. Blood shot eyes. We ask if they have been drinking," said Reid.

"First thing I do is I smell. I'm trying to use my senses of smell to see if he has been taking any alcohol or marijuana," said Deputy Green.

The smell of alcohol, blood shot eyes, impaired speech, these are all probable causes, evidence these deputies look for. If they notice these things the preliminary breath test is next.

When it comes to the initial breathalyzer you can exercise this right.

"You have the right to refuse the portable breathalyzer," said Reid.

However, Reid says people believe denying to take it means evading an arrest or charges, which is not always the case.

"If you refuse to give a breath sample on the side of the road or at a check point, if we have enough evidence to bring you to Purvis, or bring you to the lock up, we will take you to the intoxilyzer machine. Once you get down there to the intoxilyzer machine you can refuse to take the intoxilyzer 8000. At that point you will be charge with DUI refusal," said Reid.

On a particular Saturday night no one refused. When Reid and Green found probable cause on one of the men they stopped, he had a beer bottle in the console of his car and claimed he hadn't been drinking.  The first blow suggested otherwise.

"When he came up to the road block he blew a .227, which is really high. So, when he came up here I pulled him off to the side of the road,"said Reid.

Once the man submitted to the field sobriety tests Reid says he is right on the line of pass or fail, then he admits to Reid he was drinking just as he approached the road block. Reid gives him two more tests.

"At that point he passed it,"said Reid.

His alcohol level came down quickly. Reid says the man registered high on the first test because the alcohol residue was still present in his mouth, not because he had been drinking heavily or a long period of time. Reid allows him to call someone to pick him up.

"If they are right on the line or if they are under the limit we will call them a ride, and get somebody to pick them up. If they are over the limit at that point they will go to jail," said Reid.

Alcohol can land you over the .08 limit, but if you're driving under the influence of prescription pain pills that's a DUI other, Reid says many people believe you can't get a DUI for pills, but Reid says that approximately 50 percent of their DUI arrests are DUI other. Which was the case for another man the deputies stopped. @

Reid says he was driving under the influence of Lortab 10, his walking was impaired, and he was driving with two passengers. One was a toddler. He was arrested, and charged with DUI other.