When a person is pulled over and the police officer suspects intoxication, the officer will likely administer field sobriety tests and ask for a breathalyzer test to determine the driver’s condition. Refusing a breathalyzer test is becoming increasingly common strategy among drivers, but is it a good idea?
Implied Consent Laws
If a police officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving while intoxicated, they can stop you while driving and ask for a breathalyzer test. Implied consent laws in New York require drivers to submit to “breath tests,” which are often called “portable breath tests” (PBTs) is an officer has probable cause of driving while intoxicated. PBT devices are handheld machines that measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from a driver’s breath. Breathalyzer tests are not as reliable as chemical tests such as blood, urine, or saliva tests. These chemical tests can show much more accurate results and are also under implied consent laws. Chemical tests are done at the police station after a person is arrested for failing a breathalyzer test.
For first time offenders, a refusal to testing can result in up to a 12-month license suspension. This suspension is automatic and you do not have the right to fight it at trial in front of a judge. At trial, the only offense that can be fought is the DUI itself. Even if you are found not guilty of driving while intoxicated, your suspension stands for refusing to take the test during the police encounter. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test twice within a four year period, your license can be permanently revoked.
Right to Remain Silent
Generally, you have the right to remain silent when you encounter the police. Your silence cannot be used against you under general circumstances. DUI law is the exception to this rule. A refusal to taking a breathalyzer test can be used at trial against the defendant. Prosecutors can mention the defendant’s silence during the trial and it may be used against them.
Although you have the freedom to refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the consequences that you will have will be serious about this decision. The penalties for drunk driving if a conviction is obtained can be severe, so people who have been pulled over a need to understand what will happen if they refuse to take the test.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding a DUI case, please call our office today to speak to an experienced professional.