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Breathalyzer tests, your rights and refusing one

DUIs and DWIs have become so common that it seems like every third person has either experienced one themselves or knows someone well who has experienced one. DUIs and DWIs are not like the same charges of 20 years ago, there have been several changes in legislation in an attempt to crack-down on drunk driving behavior and to prevent it. However, people are human and mistakes can happen. So, how does a person deal with a breathalyzer test?

The most common question people often ask is, can a person refuse a breathalyzer test? While it is within a person's rights to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, it may not be a good criminal defense strategy in the long-run. A person could face jail time or license suspension for srefusing a breathalyzer. This is true even if another test, like a blood test, determines later that a person is not intoxicated. There may be enough evidence for the prosecution to convict a person of a crime, even without a recorded BAC level.

This could result in a worse outcome than if a person had, in fact, submitted to a breathalyzer upon an officer's request. Many people do not realize that when they get behind the wheel, they enter into an implied consent situation. What that means is a person gives up some of their privacy when they decide to get behind the wheel. Since driving is considered a privilege and not a right, states can suspend or revoke a person's driver's license, levy fines or even put them in jail for not submitting to a BAC test when suspected of a drunk driving.

Beyond being accused of DUI - being accused of failure to comply with consent laws can cause a whole other problem. Every scenario is different, however, so it is good to get a second opinion when refusing to be breathalyzed and facing charges related to that and/or DUI. As a rule of thumb, it is not a legitimate strategy to refuse a breathalyzer, but there is a time and a place for everything. Implied consent laws can get thrown into the mix in addition to drunk driving laws.

Source:, "Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?," Accessed Dec 18, 2017

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