Can You Refuse to Take the Breathalyzer Test?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 1.5 million people get are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs each year in the United States. DUI is also responsible for several road accidents. To discourage drunk driving, DUI offenders can face tough sentences, which can include jail time.
However, to be convicted of DUI, the prosecution will have to prove that you are guilty of the crime. To do this, DUI offenders can be subject to a blood alcohol level test or a breathalyzer test at the time of the arrest.
Most states consider driving as a privilege and not a right. This means that when you get your license, you also agree to chemical testing should you be suspected of driving while drunk or when requested to do so by the police. A chemical test is the only way the police or court can know if you have been drinking and the amount of alcohol in your blood.
Taking a breathalyzer test when arrested is not mandatory. You can refuse to do it. However, you need to talk to a good DUI defense lawyer to know your options and what it means to refuse a breathalyzer test. Read on for more information on whether you can refuse to take the breathalyzer test and what options you have.
The Breathalyzer Test
A breathalyzer is a device used to measure the amount of alcohol in your breath. The device will give an estimate of the level of alcohol in your blood. It is impossible to trick a breathalyzer test, and the police will submit the readings as evidence that you were drunk driving.
To be arrested for DUI, you need to register a blood alcohol level concentration (BAC) level of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or above. A breathalyzer’s readings are reliable and admissible in court. This means that once you take the test and register high BAC, you will not be able to deny the charges.
Apart from a breathalyzer test, the police can also choose to conduct some field sobriety tests. These are the most compelling pieces of evidence that the prosecutor will use against you. Such tests include the following:
- One-leg stand test
- Non-standardized field sobriety tests
- Walk-and-Turn test
- HGN test
- Romberg Balance test and the Near Point Convergence test for cannabis
Remember, you can refuse all portable breath tests and field sobriety tests without fear of receiving a statutory summary suspension. Refusing the test will also give your attorney a chance to defend you, prove you are not guilty, and win the case when you go to trial.
Penalties That Can Result from Refusing the Breathalyzer
Though you can refuse to take the test when required to, you should also be aware of the consequences of doing so. First, your license can be suspended immediately and your vehicle impounded for at least 12 hours.
The duration of the suspension and the penalties you receive will depend on your state, age, and whether you have a previous DUI conviction. Some states also give harsher penalties to drivers between 18 and 21 years old to encourage them to be cautious.
If you agree to take the breathalyzer or field tests but refuse to take it correctly as per the police’s instructions, you will face the same penalties because the police will record that you refused the test. This is because the law also wants to punish anyone who intentionally tries to avoid taking the test.
Contact a DUI Attorney when Charged with Drunk Driving
If you have been arrested for DUI, you should get in touch with a DUI attorney in your area before you agree to take any test, plead guilty, or accept any form of penalty. An experienced attorney can minimize the penalties you are facing and maybe also prove that you are not guilty or defend you if your rights have been violated in any way. Remember, the lack of a breathalyzer test will make the prosecutor’s job harder, which is the advantage you need.