When a police officer suspects that a driver in under the influence of alcohol, he or she may request the driver to submit to a Breathalyzer test which will use the driver’s breath to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Drivers should know that they can refuse a Breathalyzer test, but that there are consequences for doing so.
Implied Consent Laws
By getting your driver’s license and opting to drive in any state, you implicitly consent to submitting to a Breathalyzer test and other chemical tests, as well as field sobriety tests, if the officer has probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence. Despite implied consent laws, however, you can still refuse to submit to any test.
Consequences to Refusing a Breathalyzer
The main consequence of refusing a test is the immediate loss of your license. Under Mississippi and Alabama, implied consent laws, your license may automatically be suspended for 90 days. Your suspension could increase to one year if you have prior DUI convictions or prior refusals within a certain time frame.
So should I refuse a Breathalyzer?
While there are serious consequences to refusing a Breathalyzer, many DUI defense attorneys find that it is easier to defend a driver against DUI charges when there are no Breathalyzer results available. However, keep in mind that you can still be convicted of a DUI without Breathalyzer results if there is other evidence against you.
If you have already submitted to a Breathalyzer test, do not despair. Your defense attorney may still be able dispute the validity of the arrest itself or the validity of the test results. A successful defense strategy can reduce your sentence or get your charges dropped entirely.