Can I Refuse a Sobriety Test?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 05, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you've ever thought about refusing a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test you might want to think again.

Many states have enacted laws that dole out punishments if you voluntarily refrain.

Why exactly are you compelled to consent to testing? It's because most states have what's called "implied consent" laws.

Implied consent statutes make it so that motorists who apply for a driver's license automatically give consent to sobriety tests. This is why refusing to consent can result in penalties.

Sobriety tests are used to determine whether or not a driver is impaired. Some field sobriety tests can help police determine whether or not a driver is legally drunk in about 91% of all cases. These tests can be a vital tool to help combat dangerous drunk driving.

Punishments for refusing a sobriety test, including a breathalyzer, vary depending on your jurisdiction. Most states will impose an automatic license suspension along with other penalties such as fines.

License suspensions can range anywhere from six to twelve months. And punishments can be increased for those who already have DUI convictions.

What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer?

If you refuse a sobriety test police can obtain a warrant. Sometimes police are even authorized to use force on a suspect if they refuse.

How easy is it to get a warrant? It's not hard. Many jurisdictions have on-call judges that can issue electronic warrants in a timely manner.

So while you can refuse a breathalyzer test, it may not get you far.

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