Drunk driving is illegal in almost all states, with severe fines and penalties if violated. A breath or blood test is the quickest way to confirm a DUI violation. In some cases, the police might also do a urine test to check your blood alcohol levels.
One of the most debated issues is whether you are obligated to take these tests when pulled over. Also, what are the repercussions of refusing to take the DUI tests? Read on to find out.
DUI Implied Consent Laws
When it comes to DUI laws, the topic of implied consent laws often comes up. So, what is implied consent, and how does it affect you as a driver?
Implied consent requires drivers to comply with chemical tests whenever they are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under this agreement, a driver should submit to a chemical test after a lawful arrest.
“These laws are applicable in all US states and territories. New York was the first state to impose these laws in 1953, and by 1972, other states had equally enacted them in their regions,” explains attorney Teresa DiNardi of Lady DUI.
As mentioned, the primary purpose of these laws is to check a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. The legal limit for most states is 0.08 percent, and anything above this could lead to a DUI conviction. Unfortunately, when drivers refuse to take these tests, prosecutors have difficulty getting convictions.
Before implied consent laws were enacted, most drivers refused to take chemical tests as there were no consequences. However, now that consent laws have been sanctioned, drivers could be punished for failing to comply with chemical testing.
Drivers who refuse DUI tests could face license suspension, fines, and may be forced to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. It is important to note that punishments for refusing chemical tests will add to standard DUI punishments. For example, a DUI offender who initially had their license suspended for 6 months might have the period extended to 12 months for the refusal.
This raises the question of whether refusing to comply with a DUI chemical test is a criminal offense. Well, in some states, chemical test refusal is a separate crime. This means a driver could be convicted both for drunk driving and chemical test refusal. Moreover, they may be acquitted of a DUI offense but convicted for a chemical test refusal.
Does Refusing a Chemical Test Affect Your DUI Charge?
Once you are convicted of a DUI offense, refusing chemical tests will only make the situation worse. The prosecution might use this act against you before the judge or jury.
On the other hand, a chemical test is the only way the prosecution can prove your offense. If you refuse a blood, urine, or breath test, the prosecution may struggle to make a case against you due to a lack of solid proof of driver intoxication. Drivers who refuse to take DUI tests may suffer more severe consequences.
It is important to note that you will not be penalized for refusing a chemical test unless the officer issues an “implied consent advisement.” This is a warning stating the consequences of a chemical test refusal.
The implied consent advisement may vary depending on the state laws. However, there are a few aspects that the arresting officer must mention. For instance, in Georgia, the officers must read the following to DUI suspects:
- Drivers are obliged to take a DUI test
- Refusal to take a chemical test will result in license suspension for a year
- Refusal can be used against them at trial
Similarly, in South Carolina, officers must outline implied consent warnings to drivers. During this time, they will explain a suspect’s rights and state the consequences of refusal in writing and verbally. However, in some states like Montana, officers are not required to give the consequences of refusal.
Blood, breath, and urine are the commonly tested bodily substances for alcohol and drugs. In most cases, the arresting officer chooses the chemical test to use. On the other hand, in some states like Florida, the driver can choose between the three options.
When the officer is tasked with choosing the type of chemical test, a driver refusing to take the chosen test can be charged with refusal. Alternatively, when the driver gets to choose, turning down the tests is only a refusal if the officer does not provide all the chemical tests available.
DUI convictions generally vary depending on the state. Therefore, it is wise to hire a qualified DUI attorney if you have been arrested for a DUI offense. They will explain the state laws regarding your case and will advise on the best action.
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