DUI Stop: Should I refuse the Breathalyzer?

While most drivers don’t realize it, the fact is that police are out in full force searching for intoxicated drivers on a daily basis. If you’re stopped by a law enforcement officer for suspected drunk driving, you’ll most likely be asked to perform a variety of field sobriety tests in addition to a chemical breath test – but do you have the right to refuse such tests?

Examining Rights

When it comes to a field sobriety test or a chemical breath test, you do have the right to refuse, but there may be a bevy of negative consequences that accompany your refusal. Essentially, you can tell a law enforcement officer immediately that you do not consent to any tests related to a DUI investigation upon being pulled over, but this may lead to the loss of your driving privileges and more. Unfortunately, just because you have the right to refuse a chemical breath test doesn’t mean that you should. Whether you’re actually intoxicated or not, refusing a chemical breath test or a field sobriety test can lead to further problems.

When You Refuse

Upon being pulled over and questioned regarding suspected drunk driving, law enforcement officers will typically let you know that you have the right to refuse. While this may sound great at first, especially if you know that you’re intoxicated, the reality of the situation is quite different. By refusing, you are not admitting to driving while intoxicated legally, but you are showing a strong reasonable suspicion. As a result, most people who refuse chemical breath tests are considered to face the same punishments as individuals who have actually failed field sobriety tests and chemical breath tests.

The Penalties

Just like failing a chemical breath test and being convicted of the offense, refusing such a test will generally result in the loss of driving privileges for up to a year or more. In some situations, people who refuse chemical breath tests will also be charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest and more. Finally, even if you’ve exercised your right to refuse, you may still face fines and fees in court, even if a DUI charge is not present.

States and Standards

It’s also important to keep in mind that different states have different standards regarding DUI and refusal punishments. For instance, in North Carolina, drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence must lose their driving privileges for a period of at least one year upon the first offense, pay fines and fees, take part in alcohol education and assessment classes and carry special insurance for at least three years upon receiving a DUI; however, in other states, DUI-convicted drivers may only receive a slap on the wrist in the form of a six-month license suspension or less.

If you’ve been pulled over and you refuse to take part in any DUI tests, it’s important to remember that you may be arrested, and if this occurs, you should seek out the services of a DUI attorney as soon as possible. Even though you refused to take part in any DUI tests, a DUI attorney may still be able to assist you in representing yourself in court, especially in the case of potentially over-zealous law enforcement and prosecutors who may be trying to make a name for themselves, even if you’re innocent.

Molly Henshaw is a freelance writer who specializes in legal and business subject matter. DUI during the holidays has taken an unfortunate rise and it is important to know your rights. If you find yourself being stopped for DUI, you can find an Arlington DUI Lawyer at the Virginia based Wilson Law Firm. Let their extensive experience help you to protect your rights.

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