Refusing a Breathalyzer — What are the Consequences?

Refusing a Breathalyzer — What are the Consequences?

When an officer is treating you unfairly or you have had very little to drink, it may be tempting to refuse the officer’s request for a breathalyzer test. Before making this choice, it is important to know both the advantages and potential consequences of doing so. The laws vary from state to state, and specific questions should be handled by a trained DUI attorney. However, there are some basics that stand true across all states.

Implied Consent Laws 

Anyone who finds themselves in a precarious legal situation has the right to remain silent. No one can force you to testify under Miranda Rights. Unfortunately, when it comes to a DUI, the laws are a bit different, because Implied Consent laws apply. Many states require someone who is believed to be under the influence of alcohol to submit to either breath or sobriety testing. If you refuse these tests, you could be subject to penalties. Since you are driving on a public highway, you must follow the rules of the road. If you are driving intoxicated, you are breaking the law. Still, you have the right to refuse both sobriety tests and breathalyzers. It will come at a cost, but the penalties will vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

When you refuse a breathalyzer test, you will get an immediate suspension of your license. The length of the suspension varies. Unfortunately, the suspension is automatic, and you will not get a chance to plead your case to a judge regarding this action. It is an administrative move and not part of the DUI punishment. After the hearing, if you are convicted of drunk driving, you will receive an additional suspension of your driving privileges. Even if you have been under a suspension for three months during the hearing process, you will not get any credit for time served. Losing your license for not taking a breathalyzer and for a DUI are two separate matters.

You should always remain silent when being charged. However, a DUI is the exception to this rule. A refusal to take a test or submit to testing can be used against you at your trial. It may come across to the judge or jury as if you had something to hide. It is always best to cooperate with officers. If you are being treated unfairly, then refusing the tests may come back to haunt you during the trial.

Facing A Breathalyzer

When faced with a possible DUI, you won’t have time to call legal counsel to get advice on taking these tests. You need to decide on the spot. If you tell the officer that you won’t take these tests until you have spoken with a car accident lawyer Milwaukee WI trusts, they can record it as an automatic refusal. If you are inebriated, the sobriety test will do nothing but gather more evidence against you. You are going to be arrested, and your blood alcohol level will be measured eventually. If you are that impaired, you may want to refuse the tests. The only exception is if the law requires you to take them. However, if you are confident that you are not intoxicated beyond legal levels, it may be best to take the test.

Facing Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are used to determine if you are in control of your body. A camera will record your every move. If you perform well on this test, it could be used to reduce your charges or get you a plea bargain, even if the breathalyzer test is against you. If you refuse a sobriety test, you may be required to have blood drawn. The officer can take you to the hospital and have them take a sample of your blood, whether you consent or not. Repeat offenders often get blood draws, though they are also used when there has been an accident.

Getting Help

Almost every court in America upholds these tests as legal, though some people find them to be unconstitutional. If you have been charged with a DUI, you may need an attorney who can help. Losing your license and spending time in jail could impact your life negatively in many ways. When you find yourself in this precarious place, call for legal help.


HTThanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, S.C. for their insight into breathalyzers.

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