Know Before You Blow: Should I Take a Breathalyzer Test?James Fletcher
According to the laws of many states, a driver has to give consent before taking a breathalyzer test when asked to do so by a police officer. The choice to take the test or not can be a difficult one depending on an individual circumstance.
You can decline to take the test, but will it be worth it? Of course, the penalty for refusal is far less than that of getting convicted for DWI. For some cases, refusal is actually a better way to go.
Well, getting pulled over by the cops is a scary ordeal, even if you haven’t taken alcohol. In this post, we’re going to explore this issue further and help you understand your choice should you be pulled over.
Read on to learn more.
Is It Legally Mandatory?
Here, don’t be too quick to make a conclusion. While refusing to take the alcohol test is allowed, it’s also a ground for litigation. This law is known as implied consent, and it’s acceptable in all states, but the penalties vary.
When you apply for a driving license, the law usually forces you to give consent to all alcohol and drug tests. Typically, declining to take an alcohol test doesn’t mean you can go scot-free with your choice. As long as you’re a licensed driver, you’re subject to DWI laws.
With the implied consent laws, you’re prohibited from speaking to a lawyer before taking the test. Also, only your arresting officer will determine which test you should take. Of course, there might be more tests following the initial test if more clarification is needed. Plus, you’ll need to undertake the test as soon as possible after your encounter with the officer.
In response to drivers who refuse to take the test, some states have adopted no-refusal DUI enforcement. With this initiative, the arresting officer has a legal power to force drivers to take the test provided that he or she has a warrant.
Police officers can easily procure a warrant from a judge electronically using a mobile device. In this case, the driver can’t refuse the test because the refusal of a court-ordered test means serious charges.
You can still protest to take a breathalyzer test if your state has no-refusal policies. However, you’ll have not option but to take it if the officer procures a warrant. In Texas, these policies are already in full force. The law allows the arresting officer to use force to obtain a blood sample if they have a warrant.
At least 30 states have adopted no-refusal policies, but most are not putting them into practice entirely. Some even have selective time periods when the no-refusal law is actually active.
What Happens If You Refuse the Test?
If the arresting officer has sufficient reason to believe you’re intoxicated, he or she is legally allowed to confiscate your driver’s license and arrest you when you refuse to take the test. In most states, refusal to take the alcohol test results in a one-year suspension of your license.
Depending on the number of charges the officer will report, you may even get a jail term. You can decline to take the test, but the prosecutor may have enough evidence to charge you with DUI. Witness testimonies, officer observations, and field sobriety test results can be used to build a case against you.
Some states have a small penalty for refusing a mobile breathalyzer test. But you can get severe penalties if you refuse a post-arrest urine, blood, or breath test at a hospital or police station.
In some cases, the act of failing to provide enough breath sample for the test can also be considered a refusal to take the breathalyzer test. So, it helps to listen carefully to the instructions that the officer will give you.
May Be It’s Wise to Take It
In most situations, taking the test would be a wise thing to do. For example, if you accept the test and it shows you’re under the influence, your license will only be suspended for six months. When you refuse the test, your license gets a 12-month suspension or more.
In Texas, the number of times you have refused to take the test also determines your punishment. For example, if it’s your first offense, you will get a 180-day license suspension. Both second and any subsequent refusal will earn you a two-year suspension for each offense.
Also, if your DUI case involves an accident, you have no option but to take a breathalyzer test. Another situation whereby you’ll need to blow the breathalyzer is when you’re driving with a child in the car. If you had two or more DWI convictions in the past, it will be wise to take the test when you’re pulled over.
In the U.S., the law considers driving a privilege, not a right. By accepting the driver’s license, you agree to adhere to all regulations and responsibilities that come with it.
Get Help with DWI
If you’re arrested for a DWI charge in Austin, Texas, getting the help of a DWI attorney is the right way to go. Don’t attract additional offenses by refusing to take the test. Plus, that will actually make things harder for you and your lawyer.
When you’re arrested, be sure to document everything. Note the location of your arrest and the name of the arresting officer. Also, know the reason why the officer pulled you over and keep your conversation with him or her fresh in your mind.
You should only refuse to take the test if you have substantial reason to do so. However, keep in mind that other evidence, such as poor driving and failed sobriety tests, can incriminate you.
Breathalyzer Test – The Takeaway
Whether you choose to take the test or not, it’s important to understand the consequences of a DUI conviction. Don’t misuse the legal right that the implied consent gives you. Things can be harsh for you, especially if you have an aggravated DUI charge (.18 or above)
Be sure to take the time to find the right lawyer who has adequate experience in DUI. Remember to be open about your past charges, medical conditions, medications, and sobriety test results when talking to a lawyer.
Do you have any question about DUI charge? Feel free to get in touch with us.