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Refusing a breath test under implied consent laws

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Drunk Driving

Have you ever taken a breathalyzer test? A breath test is a small contraction, often as big as your hand, with a port or straw for your mouth, which nearly every officer has available on their tool belt when conducting a traffic stop on a suspected drunk driver. This test evaluates someone’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and, if it exceeds 0.08%, can lead to a DUI charge.

It’s often rumored that there are ways to circumvent a breath test, such as putting a penny in your mouth or eating lots of food before driving. Possibly the most straightforward approach to avoiding a breath test is, simply, refusing to take one. However, there are consequences to refusing a breath test, which you can better understand by knowing your implied consent laws.

Here’s what you should know:

What are your implied consent obligations?

Driving is a privilege, not a right, given to people who score accurately on their driving tests. The thing about having the privilege to drive is that it can be taken away just as easily as it was given. By getting a license and getting behind the wheel, people are entering a preliminary agreement to follow implied consent laws.

The basic premise of implied consent laws is that drivers have their license, registration and insurance and that they consent to sobriety tests. Failing to consent to a sobriety test can cause penalties to a person’s license. While you can refuse to take a breath test, it’s often in a driver’s best interest to comply with the law.

Can you refuse a standardized field sobriety test?

It should be noted that police may ask a suspect to perform a standardized field sobriety test (SFST). The following are typical SFSTs:

  • Walk-and-turn test
  • One-legged stand test
  • Horizontal gaze test

While these tests are meant to evaluate whether a suspect is inebriated, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re part of the implied consent laws. In other words, people may be able to refuse an SFST without penalties – but, they may still be required to take a breath test.

Knowing your implied consent laws can be difficult. If you’re facing a DUI/DWI, then you may need to know your legal options when creating a defense.