If you are ever pulled over because a law enforcement officer suspects that you have been driving drunk, he or she may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. This test will determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) in your body. Some individuals do not wish to submit to these tests because they know that they are intoxicated. However, others wish to avoid them because they believe that they are a privacy violation.
What will happen if you refuse a breath test depends on what state you are in. Some states do not allow refusals. If you attempt to refuse, you will either be taken to a police station, a local hospital or some other approved location and forced to submit to a blood, urine or breath test.
In other states, you will face a hefty penalty for refusal, which may ultimately be a more destructive penalty than if you had been convicted of drunk driving. These penalties may include an automatic suspension of your drivers’ license. You may also be compelled to pay fees and various citation amounts. Finally, you may be sentenced to a period of incarceration, depending on what state you are in and whether you have any other impaired driving citations on your record.
Depending on the circumstances, your refusal may also be submitted as evidence of your intoxication should your criminal case go to trial. All of these consequences are serious. As a result, it is usually not in your best interest to refuse a breath test even if you are intoxicated at the time of your traffic stop. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be in a better position to help you navigate a possible drunk driving conviction successfully than a breath test refusal case.
Source: Findlaw Blotter, “What Happens If You Refuse a DUI Breath Test?” Betty Wang, Oct. 25, 2013