Ft. Lauderdale, FL- When law enforcement pulls a driver who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, they will ask that driver to undergo field sobriety tests and either a breathalyzer or blood test. Most people are aware of that they don’t have to submit to the breathalyzer, but many are not aware that refusing to blow has severe penalties and that refusing the test may not keep them from being charged with driving under the influence.
In the U.S., driving is considered a privilege and not a right so all fifty states have implied consent laws. What you are consenting to varies in each state, but typically entails that you carry your driver’s license and insurance cards with you and are willing to produce those documents when asked by an officer. In 20 states “implied consent” also means that you agree to submit to the breathalyzers or blood tests if an officer has the suspicion that you are intoxicated.
While all drivers have the right to refuse sobriety tests, doing so can have immediate consequences. In some states refusing to submit to sobriety tests can result in the immediate suspension of your driver’s license for 6 to 12 months.
Refusing can also result in an automatic DUI charge or jail time. For instance, Alaska, Minnesota and Nebraska have automatic jail sentences for refusing breathalyzer or blood tests.
When you refuse a police officer can confiscate your driver’s license on the scene as an administrative action because you broke the promise you made when you were first given your driver’s license. You can also be charged with a DUI.
Some people are under the impression that they can’t be convicted of a DUI charge after their license is taken because or of the country’s double jeopardy laws. But this not true, revocation of your driver’s license is typically considered an administrative action as opposed to criminal action so you can lose your license and be still charged with a DUI.
Some people believe that refusing sobriety tests means that the prosecution will not have the evidence necessary to convict you of intoxicated driving. That is not always the case; some courts will convict a driver based solely on an officer’s observations prior to pulling you over and during your stop. If you were driving erratically or have bloodshot eyes and smell of alcohol that will be noted in the police report and can be used to secure a conviction.
In some states refusing sobriety tests can enhance your penalties if you are convicted of driving under the influence.
Refusing to submit to breathalyzers can in some states can work to your benefit or can actually hurt you in the long run. If you live in a state with implied consent laws and refused a breathalyzer it is crucial you retain a DUI attorney to work on your defense. A skilled DUI attorney will give you a chance to avoid a DUI conviction or have your charges reduced.