If you have ever had the misfortune to be arrested on a DUI charge, you know how important it is to cooperate with the police officer who pulled you over. This is not a time to be defiant or combative. The consequences of being arrested on such charges can follow you far beyond the date of your initial offense. If you exacerbate the situation by refusing to follow the directions of the officer at the scene, you will only end up making things much worse for yourself. While there may be reasons for your refusal to take a breathalyzer test, this is not a course most experts would recommend.
Under What Circumstances Can A Police Officer Pull You Over?
If you are exhibiting signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating your vehicle, a police officer is within their rights to pull you over. If you are weaving between lanes, driving too fast or too slow, not yielding to other cars, or running through red lights, these are all valid signs that your driving may be impaired. A police officer can demand that you pull over immediately.
What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
At this point, the most pressing question on your mind may well be, “What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer test?” There are a number of consequences that can immediately follow your refusal to take this test, some of which could harm your case if it should go to court. Perhaps the most immediate consequence is that it gives the prosecutor in your case the right to inform the judge and jury of your refusal to take the test. This may not be damning evidence in and of itself, but it may well subtly prejudice the jury in favor of the prosecution. At the very least, they will be wondering what you had to hide.
You May Be Immediately Arrested if You Refuse to Take the Test
You should know that you may immediately be arrested if you refuse to take the test. even if this does not happen, you may still face suspension of your license for a period that will be stipulated by the state. In some states, as noted above, your refusal to take the breathalyzer test will be used as evidence against you when you show up in court. After you refuse to take the test, police officers can still base a DUI charge on your actions as observed by themselves and other witnesses at the scene. For example, if you were visibly drunk, slurring your speech, and smelling of alcohol, all this is evidence.
Refusing to Take the Mobile Breath Test Can Lead to Further Penalties
Some states make a distinction between the act of refusing to take a mobile breath test at the scene and later refusing to take additional breath, blood, or urine tests at the police station or at a hospital later on. Refusing to take the mobile breath test may result in a series of smaller penalties as described above. However, refusing to take the additional tests can result in more severe penalties, including your immediate arrest on DUI charges. While this distinction may not apply in all states, it’s a good idea for you to get up to speed on whether or not your own state is one of the ones where it does.
You May Be Liable to Lose Your License Under an “Implied Consent” Clause
One of the answers to the question, “What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer test?”, may involve the loss of your license under an “implied consent” clause. In many states, one of the conditions for receiving an active driver’s license is that you consent to be subjected to a breathalyzer test in case you are ever pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. This means that you essentially surrender your driving privileges if you should refuse this test. You will therefore have no legal leg to stand on if you lose your driver’s license for the amount of time mandated by the state.
Some States Will Not Allow You to Refuse a Breath Test
There are some states where refusing to take a breath test is simply not an option. In these states, a “no-refusal” policy prevails. If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, you will not be able to avoid taking the test in order to avoid incriminating yourself. A police officer can use a mobile device to immediately obtain an electronic warrant that allows them to force you to submit to a breath test. If you still refuse, you could immediately be charged with contempt. In addition, a police officer could draw blood from your body by force. All of this is legally sanctioned in these particular states.
Is There Ever a Good Reason to Refuse a Police Ordered Breath Test?
It should be clear by now that there really is no “good” reason for refusing to take a breath test. The penalties for refusal can be very harsh, including loss of your driver’s license for a long amount of time. You may also receive heavy fines or even jail time. The only instance in which refusing to take a breath, blood, or urine test may be advantageous to you is when the penalties for being convicted of a DUI will be less easy for you to accept and deal with than the penalties associated with refusing the test. But this is a choice you should only have to weigh as an absolute last resort.
Do You Have the Right to Speak to an Attorney Before Taking a Breath Test?
Some states will permit drivers who have been pulled over on suspicion of DUI charges to contact an attorney before agreeing to submit to a breath test. In other states, you may also be permitted to speak to an attorney before deciding whether to take a breath, blood, or urine test. It’s a good idea to research which states will allow you to do so, since it won’t do you much good to insist on having an attorney present in a state where the police officer that pulled you over doesn’t have to allow this to happen.
What Can a Professional DUI Lawyer Do to Help Your Case?
If you find yourself in the position of having to defend yourself against DUI charges in court, you will need to seek legal representation from a professional DUI lawyer. It’s never a good idea to try to represent yourself against such charges. The prosecutor will be able to call upon a wealth of evidence and testimony from police officers, witnesses to the arrest, and medical experts. Unless you are a physician yourself, you will probably not have the expertise to defend yourself in an adequate manner against this evidence. This is why you will need a lawyer to help you state and prove your case.
A Professional DUI Lawyer Can Reduce Your Charges or Get Them Dropped
It’s an excellent idea to call upon the services of a DUI lawyer as soon as you are arrested or cited for a DUI. This is not something that you want to put off until the date of your trial. A professional DUI lawyer can contest the testimony or evidence in your case in order to get the charges against you either reduced or dropped. At the very least, you may be able to get the amount of your fine reduced or a shorter amount of time that your driver’s license will be suspended. This is an outcome that you will surely want to take advantage of. The best way to have a chance at avoiding an unpleasant outcome for your trial is to have a skilled DUI lawyer in your corner.