Our Grand Rapids DUI Attorney Explains Your Right to Refuse a DUI Breath Test

Our Grand Rapids DUI attorney often receives questions about DUI stops or arrests with concerns about the right to refuse a breath test. While many people relate their various experiences or act as arm-chair lawyers, it’s best to speak with someone with the background and experience to provide you with the proper information. Here is what you need to know if you decide to refuse a Breathalyzer test.

Can You Legally Refuse a Breathalyzer?

You have the right to refuse a breath test, but invoking that right comes with serious consequences. If you are later determined to be impaired, those consequences are separate from the penalties that you face for refusing a Breathalyzer. In most jurisdictions, your license will likely be suspended, and you could be arrested and detained. In addition, the officers might look at other evidence from the scene of the stop or the accident. For example, the prosecution could use eyewitness testimony, observations by the police officer or your performance on other field sobriety tests in order to determine if you were impaired. If the case goes to trial, the prosecution could also cite your refusal to cooperate with a Breathalyzer as part of a pattern of illegal behavior. Some jurisdictions might differentiate between refusing to submit to a mobile test and refusing a standard police test via breath, urine or blood. The latter is generally viewed as more serious with harsher penalty. Our Grand Rapids DUI attorney can further explain the difference between these two tests and the related consequences.

Statistics on Refusing to Take a Breath Test

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that about one in five people across the nation who are stopped for drinking and driving refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer. However, this number ranges from a high of 81 percent in New Hampshire to 2.4 percent in Delaware. The variances suggest that jurisdictions enforce implied consent laws differently. Our Grand Rapids DUI attorney can review how the laws are applied in Michigan.

Understanding Implied Consent

Every state considers driving a privilege instead of a right. This gives states the authority to suspend or even revoke your driver’s license if you are suspected or arrested for driving under the influence. The courts could also enforce additional sanctions, such as fines, probation, jail time, classes and more. Implied consent means that when you are given the privilege of driving, you agree to submit to a breath test as requested by any law enforcement officer. Failure to comply will result in the suspension or loss of your license. While the length of time varies by state, a refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer could result in the loss of your license for as long as a year. If you have a prior DUI conviction, the length of time will be even longer. Some motorists understand this risk and decide that they would rather suffer the related penalties instead of facing a second or third DUI conviction. Discuss your concerns about implied consent with our Grand Rapids DUI attorney.

The Rights of Police to Obtain an Immediate Warrant for a Breath Test

Some jurisdictions have enacted “no-refusal” DUI enforcement laws so that individuals cannot avoid arrest by refusing to submit to testing. Instead, law enforcement officers have the right to immediately obtain an electronic warrant from a judge. If you still refuse to comply with the terms of the warrant, you could face contempt of court charges and might be detained so that the authorities can forcibly take a blood sample. While a majority of the states have the right to use no-refusal practices, not all states strictly enforce the initiatives. In addition, you might have permission to speak with our Grand Rapids DUI attorney before you make a decision about refusing a test.

Contact Our Grand Rapids DUI Attorney

If you have questions about your rights and breathalyzer tests, call our Grand Rapids DUI attorney, Miel & Carr PLC, at (616) 773-2945.