One of the things that many drivers mistakenly believe is that if they refuse a breathalyzer during a DUI traffic stop, they are less likely to be convicted. Whether you've recently been stopped and refused the test or you just want to be sure you understand the basics in case it ever happens, this article will help. Here's a look at what you need to know about breathalyzer refusal and what it could mean for your case.
Understanding Implied Consent
When you apply for and get your driver's license, your signature not only serves as verification but also as your agreement with your state's implied consent law. Implied consent covers your consent to produce your driver's license and insurance when requested by law enforcement as well as completing a field sobriety test if required. In addition, implied consent also includes the administration of a urine, blood, or breath alcohol test upon request.
What Implied Consent Means For Breathalyzer Refusal
The implied consent law means that you should not refuse to take a sobriety test if you're pulled over. However, it doesn't mean that you cannot refuse. It's important that you remember, however, that refusing a sobriety test is a violation of its own in most states. You can be penalized for refusing the breathalyzer even if you aren't found to be intoxicated. In addition, refusing doesn't mean that you cannot still be arrested for driving while intoxicated, because the officer who pulls you over has the final determination on whether or not he or she believes you to be impaired.
What Breathalyzer Refusal Does For Your Chances of Conviction
If you've been under the impression that refusing the breath test will keep you from actually being convicted of driving under the influence, that's not the case. While refusing the breathalyzer does prevent the officer from using your breath test results in court, they can obtain a warrant to seek a blood test. With a warrant, you cannot refuse. In addition, the results of the field test and the officer's statement will be considered. Further, in many states, refusing the breathalyzer is seen as an admission of guilt. That means that you'll likely be automatically convicted simply because you refused the breath test.
What Breathalyzer Refusal Means For Your Possible Penalties
In many states, the penalties for refusing the breathalyzer can be harsher than those for the DUI conviction itself. Many states actually suspend your driver's license automatically as an administrative suspension for refusing to take the breath test. You may even have to pay fines for the refusal in addition to fines if you're convicted.
Now that you understand the basics of what it can mean for you to refuse the breathalyzer, you can make a more informed decision if you're ever stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. Your best bet is to talk with an attorney, like R. Patrick McPherson Attorney At Law, right away if you're arrested and facing DUI charges or if your license was suspended.