What If I Refuse A Breathalyzer?

DUI / Saturday, February 10th, 2018

States have been looking to crack down on drunk driving in recent years, as many states have reformed their criminal statues to be more aggressive in prosecuting and sentencing drunk drivers.

Despite some of this, along with increased enforcement by local police, drunk driving continues to happen. One of the key tools in law enforcement is the “dreaded” breathalyzer test to determine impairment.

How Does a Breathalyzer Work?

A breathalyzer device is a primary field-test tool for law enforcement to determine impairment of a suspected drunk driver. The goal of the breathalyzer is to measure alcohol level in a person’s breath.

A driver who is suspected of intoxication is usually asked to blow into the machine for a few seconds, and the device processes the breath and extrapolates out the alcohol and creates a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) number that represents the percentage of blood that is infected by alcohol.  A BAC level of .08 or above is legal intoxication, though some people can be arrested for intoxication with a BAC under .08 if a person fails a field sobriety test.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

As you may notice in the previous section, it was mentioned that a law-enforcement officer will request a breathalyzer test. This was deliberate. While an officer may have reason to believe or suspect intoxication, an officer cannot actually require a person to undergo a breathalyzer test.  A driver or other person can refuse to take a breathalyzer test. While you have that right, there are potential consequences to refusing.

What Happens When I Refuse?

While you have the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you also have the responsibility to adhere by the consequences. One of the consequences is that the officer has the right to presume that your refusal of the test implies that you are intoxicated, and that can mean that you have possible jail time waiting for you.

While there is a way to work around a refusal of a breathalyzer test, the officer will have an opportunity to charge you with intoxication even without actual evidence. And proving your innocence with the breathalyzer is easier than proving it in a court room later.

Guilty until Proven Innocent?

Drunk driving is a large public-safety issue, and it is something that municipalities try to take very seriously. That may mean that some drivers may get thrown in jail if they refuse a breathalyzer test – going on the safety presumption of intoxication until you are able to prove otherwise.

That isn’t right. Contact our attorneys today to get a consultation about your situation, and let an attorney fight for your constitutional right to innocence until proven guilty. Safety is always important, but individual freedom is equally important.