Most drivers have heard not to take a breathalyzer test if they are stopped for a DUI but is that the best choice? Have you ever wondered if they can still arrest and convict you for DUI without the test? Does it depend on where you live or is the choice the same for all drivers?
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test
All states have passed Implied Consent laws which means that when you are stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) you have given you “implied consent” to submit to a chemical test. It is illegal in every state to operate a motorized vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher and chemical testing of your blood, urine or breath can determine your BAC or blood alcohol concentration level.
What does the Implied Consent laws include? If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, under Implied Consent laws you have agreed to produce your driver’s license and insurance information, perform a field sobriety test if requested and to submit to a blood, alcohol or urine test.
If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test you can be arrested under a state’s per se laws as long as the police officer has probable cause to believe you are intoxicated and you may be a danger to others or to yourself.
What is considered probable cause? Any type of behavior that may indicate you are intoxicated including speeding, slurred speech, alcohol on your breath, running a red light, driving the wrong direction, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating or driving without your headlights on. Drivers who are stopped without probable cause should contact a DUI lawyer immediately and discuss the details of their DUI arrest.
Most drivers do not realize that not only can they be arrested for refusal to take the test or failing the test, but they may also have their license suspended for up to one year, even if they are not convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Keep in mind that administrative license suspensions can be challenged within a specified timeframe. If you have had your license confiscated by a police officer, talk to a DUI lawyer about appealing the license suspension.
The idea behind implied consent laws is that driving is not a right, and the goal of protecting the public’s safety is elevated above a driver’s personal rights. Opponents of the laws claim that because the administrative license suspension is in addition to other criminal DUI charges which might be brought against the driver, the driver may be subject to punishment twice for DUI, first by the Department of Motor Vehicles and then by the criminal justice system.
So should you refuse a breathalyzer test? It really depends on where you live, and it is critical to understand your state’s DUI laws before you make this decision. State laws can vary for a breathalyzer refusal. Some state penalties may be more severe than if you had failed the field sobriety tests. Other states may consider a breathalyzer refusal as an indication of guilt, and your refusal may be used as evidence against you at your DUI trial.
Hiring a DUI Lawyer
DUI lawyers will do everything they can to help you. DUI attorneys can review your DUI arrest, make sure the police officer had probable cause to make the DUI stop and make sure that if you did submit to the breathalyzer test that it was performed accurately. If you need help, place your confidence in an experienced DUI lawyer who will help you get the best DUI defense possible.
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