What Happens If You Refuse To Take A Breathalyzer Test?

Drunk driving is a serious problem across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2015 alone, 10,265 motorists died due to alcohol-related accidents. If you are found guilty of driving while intoxicated, it can come with some hefty consequences – not just in fines, but you may also face prison time, depending on the state where you live.

A breathalyzer test is the first line of defense that law enforcement uses prove that you are driving under the influence. It’s a machine that you blow into that evaluates your blood alcohol concentration. Based on what your BAC is, you can be charged with driving while intoxicated. If you are suspected of drinking and driving the officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test; although it is your right not to take it, if you refuse you could risk having your license taken, or even going to prison, whether you are legally intoxicated or not.

Although you might not be arrested if you refuse to take the test, there are other things that an officer can use to test your sobriety and to try to prove that you are intoxicated. Things like a field sobriety test, witness testimony, or even taping you might be used against you to charge you with driving while impaired.

In some jurisdictions, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test then that refusal might be used against you if your case goes to trial. Some state laws make it a penalty to refuse a mobile breathalyzer test and make that a different penalty than refusing to take an after-arrest blood urine test or a breath test that is administered either at the hospital or after you are taken to the police station.

What are implied consent laws?

Driving is considered a privilege, not a right. This means that if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked, the officer may take your license, levy hefty fines against you, or even remand you to prison just for failing to take the test, even if you are not legally drunk. “Implied consent laws” mean that you consent to being tested by a breathalyzer simply because you agreed to the rules of the road when you were given the privilege of driving. Therefore, if you do not take the test, then you might face an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

States often penalize those who refuse to take a test by immediately suspending their driver’s license for up to 12 months, but that is decided at the state level. Those who have previous DUI convictions might face suspension or prison time, which can be even longer if they refuse the breathalyzer. There are some drivers who would rather face the consequences of failing to take the test than risk being charged with wanton or reckless driving, which can carry heavier sentencing times. For those with multiple DUI convictions, whether they take the test or not, the penalties will be severe.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up to 20% of those who are suspected of drinking while driving refuse to take the breathalyzer test.

“No-Refusal” Enforcement

“No-Refusal” enforcement was a response by some states for those drivers who refuse the breathalyzer test. No-refusal laws allow a suspect to be forced to take the test under the authority of a warrant. In those states, police officers may obtain electronic warrants that are streamed to their mobile devices that make suspects take the breathalyzer test without the right to refuse.

If you are pulled over for the suspicion of driving while under the influence, in most cases it is better to take the breathalyzer test than to not take it. Unless you are facing multiple DUI charges, the penalties for not taking it are usually only combined with a guilty charge in court. If you don’t take the breathalyzer test, it is almost like an admission of guilt. If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI, it is important that you hire a DUI lawyer in Boston to try to reduce the consequences that you will likely face.

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