Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer?

Refuse Breathalyzer

New Yorkers love to celebrate with family and friends, which usually includes consuming a few cocktails. Unfortunately, being pulled over for a DUI can ruin a festive mood quickly. When drivers get pulled over after drinking, they may be asked to take a breathalyzer test to see if they’re over the legal limit. Some drivers refuse the breathalyzer, but that’s generally not a good idea.

How Police View Refusal to Take a Breathalyzer

Police officers almost always see it as an admission of guilt. They assume that no one would refuse to take the test unless they were over the legal limit. As a result, drivers are still likely to be charged with a DWI or DWAI.

Do Police Have to Show You Breathalyzer Results?

When police test a driver’s breath for alcohol on the side of the road, they do not need to show you the results. Since this test is not an actual breathalyzer, the results only test positive or negative for alcohol content. If however you are given a breathalyzer in the police station, the results will be provided.

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer

In New York State, drivers are subject to what’s known as an implied consent law regarding breathalyzer tests and other law enforcement interactions. That means that anyone driving on a public road has implicitly consented to take the test if asked to do so by the police. As a result, those who refuse to take breathalyzer tests can be charged a $500 fine.

Having to pay a fine isn’t the only potential consequence for refusing a breathalyzer. The decision will also result in the automatic suspension of the driver’s license for up to 12 months. If the driver is charged, they’ll also get one of the following: DUI, DWI, or DWAI.

Some people assume that refusing a breathalyzer means they can avoid testing for alcohol. Drunk drivers assume by doing so that they can avoid a charge, avoid the fine, avoid jail (and paying bail) and get their licenses back. In fact, the fine and license suspension are related to the refusal to take the breathalyzer, not to a DUI conviction.

The penalties will remain in place even if the driver’s DUI charges are dropped. Those who are convicted of DUI after refusing a breathalyzer will also be refused the conditional license typically offered to offenders.

Why You Should Not Refuse a Breathalyzer

Even drivers who are afraid they might be over the legal limit should consent to breathalyzer tests when they’re asked to take them. The tests provide less evidence of intoxication than most people think since the results can be contested. And even when drivers blow over the legal limit, it looks better to juries that they took the tests than it would to have refused them.

Like police officers, juries typically view the refusal to take a breathalyzer as an admission of guilt, while blowing too high on a breathalyzer tends to be viewed as evidence that the person did not mean to be driving while intoxicated.

The only time it makes sense to refuse a breathalyzer is when a driver is completely intoxicated. When drivers in New York blow more than a .18, they may face worse charges such as aggravated driving while intoxicated.

What to Do if You Refuse a Breathalyzer

Those who have already refused to take breathalyzer tests need to hire experienced attorneys to help with their cases. A DUI attorney can help the driver take steps to minimize the consequences of the refusal and provide courtroom representation for the DUI.

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