What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer?
What happens if you refuse a breathalyzer? Most people have their own drunk-driving horror stories. Car crashes and accidents, fights with other drivers, and getting pulled over, arrested, and sometimes even convicted by law enforcement agents. The law is strict on drunk driving, as it should be. After all, the US has seen over 10,000 alcohol-related road deaths in 2015.
But say you find yourself in a situation where you are getting pulled over by the cops for drunk driving and being asked to undergo a breathalyzer test. What are your options? The advice on this varies, but a typical recommendation is just to refuse the test and face no consequences. But really, do we know what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer? Find the answer below.
What Does a Breathalyzer Test Determine?
Before going into what happens if you refuse a Breathalyzer test, it’s good to know what a breathalyzer test does and determines.
A breathalyzer test determines the blood alcohol content (BAC) found in the subject’s breath. Blood alcohol content is a signifier of the amount of alcohol in your body. Alcohol reaches the breath through the blood.
As you ingest alcohol, its molecules enter the bloodstream through the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines, and travel all over the body. Once the blood reaches the lungs, the alcohol molecules pass through the air sacs and out of the body with every breath.
Your BAC is affected by many different factors, from your age to weight. The biggest contributors to a high BAC are the amount of alcohol consumed and the levels of alcohol found in your drinks. The more alcohol you consume, the higher your BAC will be. Having a BAC of 0.08% or higher indicates that you are legally impaired and not fit for driving.
What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?
You are likely to face some pretty serious consequences if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Though you probably will not be put under arrest just yet, a police officer can have your license suspended.
Prosecutors can charge you with a DUI or a DWI based on other evidence present at the scene, officers’ observations of your behavior and the events of the checkpoint, testimonies of witnesses, or even a field sobriety test. In some areas, your refusal to take a Breathalyzer test can also be used against you in a trial.
Understanding Your Rights and Privileges
Driving a car is a privilege, not a right. Under “implied consent laws,” a driver implicitly consents to blood alcohol content tests in exchange for the privilege to drive. That means the state can decide whether to suspend or revoke your license, fine you or even jail you if you refuse to take a test.
Refusing to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test can mean having the state penalize you by suspending your license. Your license can be suspended for up to one year. If you have a previous DUI conviction, you may even face a longer suspension, or land yourself in jail.
In some states, “no-refusal” DUI enforcement initiatives have been implemented. Under these initiatives, law enforcement agents can issue warrants which force suspects to undergo BAC testing. These days, cops can even produce electronic warrants so that there is no time between pulling over a subject and procuring a warrant. In these cases, time is of the essence, as the subject may sober up as time passes.
Understanding what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer test can help you weigh your next steps should you get pulled over by the cops. You must always be aware of State laws regarding driving under the influence or driving while impaired, as these laws vary from state to state. Knowing these differences can help you avoid a lengthy suspension and even jail time. Oftentimes, complying with the police can make everything run more smoothly for everyone.
However, the best advice is still to avoid drinking and driving completely. If you wish to enjoy a night of fun and drinking with your friends and loved ones, avoid taking a car, or entrust your keys to a friend who will remain sober throughout the night. That way, you can avoid the risk of getting pulled over and charged, as well as keep yourself and other people safe from the dangers of drunk driving.