Fargo, ND- A man facing criminal penalties for refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test during a DUI stop lost his legal challenge last week after the North Dakota Supreme Court upheld his DUI-related conviction.

In 2013, Danny Birchfield crashed his car into a ditch in Morton County so, naturally, police suspected he was drunk. The Bismarck Tribune reported that Birchfield agreed to a preliminary breath test which is not admissible in court. That preliminary test showed he had a BAC of .254, but Birchfield then refused to submit to a chemical test. As a result he was charged with refusing a blood test and later convicted.

Birchfield then challenged his conviction for refusing to submit to a breath/chemical test, arguing that the penalties associated with the charge are a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Birchfield’s attorney argued that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McNeely vs. Missouri, which established that an officer cannot forcibly take a person’s blood for a chemical test without first obtaining warrant, eliminated the legal framework needed impose penalties on a person for refusing a sobriety test.

Many people have this misguided notion that not submitting to breathalyzer test will be their ticket out of a DUI charge, but this is not the case. Under North Dakota law, refusing to submit to a breath test or chemical test is a criminal offense, carrying the same penalties as a DUI. If you are facing a charge for refusing a breath test, you need to speak with a North Dakota DUI attorney so they may begin working on a defense strategy to help you avoid conviction.

Birchfield’s case along with another similar case reached the North Dakota Supreme Court. Last week, the high court ruled that the state’s refusal law and the subsequent penalties do not violate a person’s constitutional rights. Justices established that person gives their consent to sobriety tests when they accept their driver’s license.

“Driving is a privilege, not a constitutional right, and is subject to reasonable control by the state under its police power,” Supreme Court Justice Lisa McEvers wrote in the court’s opinion, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

The high court therefore upheld Birchfield’s conviction for refusing a sobriety test and he must now deal with the consequences which includes one year mandatory license suspension.

If you charged with a DUI in North Dakota, you could be facing time in jail, loss of your driving privileges, costly fines and fees. The look back period recently changed from 5 years to 10 years so you could be facing even harsher penalties if you are a repeat offender.

Our advice is to not drink and drive in the first place, but if you happen to be one of the many people who ignore that advice, be smart and get legal help at once! With tougher DUI laws on the books, anyone charged with a DUI needs someone working on their defense. Having expert legal counsel is the best way to minimize a DUI charge and allow a person to avoid the worst of the penalties.