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Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

Richard S. Lundin
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Personal injury and family law attorney licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia

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11/9/2017
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If you are pulled over by the police for suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. You are not required to take the roadside “Portable Breathalyzer Test” (PBT)—or the field sobriety tests, for that matter—despite the casual (or intimidating) prodding of the police officer…so don’t.

If you are arrested for DUI, you will be taken to the station and are legally obligated to undergo a chemical test (breathalyzer or blood test) there. There are major ramifications for refusing, including fines, suspension or revocation of vehicle registration and driver’s license, insurance hikes and surcharges, and jail time (up to two years). Some of these penalties can be enhanced if you have a prior conviction for DUI/DWI. Never refuse the chemical test at the station without talking to a DUI attorney first.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nationwide rate of breathalyzer refusal is 25 percent. A breathalyzer test is just one piece of evidence involved in a DUI/DWI case; refusing to submit to one will rarely aid your situation. In fact, your refusal can be used against you in court and jump-start the above-mentioned consequences. Other evidence that can bolster the case against you is erratic driving, failing field sobriety tests, a police officer’s observations of your demeanor and speech, the smell of alcohol on your breath, witness testimony, and the damaging sight of empty alcohol containers in your vehicle.

A DUI/DWI attorney can guide you through the minefield of DUI/DWI implications. Completely avoiding these messy complications is simple – Never drink and drive. 



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