How do implied consent laws impact breath test refusal?
When drivers are pulled over for a DUI, they are often asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Law enforcement officials use breath tests and other tests to help determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, more than 20 percent of U.S. drivers suspected of a DUI refuse to take a blood alcohol test. While refusing a breathalyzer test may seem like the right thing to do when pulled-over, it also comes with consequences.
In any state, when you get your driver’s license, implied consent laws go into effect. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety or chemical test. Implied consent laws mean that you consent to these tests to determine your level of impairment.
California drivers risk license suspension for one year if they refuse to submit to these tests. The driver may receive a citation for the refusal, but a driver who consents to a blood test after the initial breathalyzer refusal, may be exempted from a refusal charge. However, if the driver has a history of DUI convictions, a refusal may mean an even longer license suspension or, in some cases, jail time.
License suspension may not be your only penalty for a breath test refusal. Some car insurance companies will cancel your policy as a result of the refusal-related license suspension. Refusing a breath test and later being found guilty of the DUI could be more serious. Seeking the opinion of a DUI defense attorney may be beneficial in determining the best course of action for your particular situation.