Should You Refuse A Breathalyzer Test?

You may have had this discussion with your friends. Inevitably, someone at the table (or bar) will state that you should always refuse a breathalyzer test. After all, there is some question whether they are accurate or not. Also, shouldn't you refuse to do anything until you've contacted your lawyer? These are good, logical points, but they really do not apply. In most instances, you should say yes to the breathalyzer, even if you do not trust them.

Implied Consent

According to the NHTSA, about twenty percent of drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated refuse to take a breathalyzer test. Your attorney may be better able to defend you in the absence of breathalyzer results, but the penalty for refusing is pretty severe in some states. So even if you are found not guilty of DUI, you are in trouble with the state.

When you get your driver's license, you basically give up your right to refuse sobriety tests. If you do decline one, you will automatically have your license suspended, often for six months. This suspension has nothing to do with the penalties you will receive if you are later found guilty of DUI. In some states, like New Jersey, you will be charged with a crime for refusing to take the breathalyzer. 

Taking the Breathalyzer 

Even if you do register over .08 on a breathalyzer, you may only lose your license for sixty days if found guilty of a first offense. Of course, you will pay for a DUI lawyer (like Kayle Jackson) and various court costs, but you may be better off by going that route than refusing the breathalyzer in the first place. 

If you have only had one drink but are afraid to take the breathalyzer test because of its inaccuracy, you should reconsider. If you truly have only had one drink, you have little chance to blow over .08 even if the test isn't perfect. In that case, take the test and forgo the automatic suspension. If you have had too much to drink, things get complicated, particularly if you already have a DUI on your record. In that instance, you may want to refuse the test and agree to nothing until you speak to your lawyer. 

Usually, you have the right not to incriminate yourself, but when it comes to DUI, the rules are different. By getting a license, you gave up some of your rights. You can be totally sober and lose your license over refusing a breathalyzer. In most instances, saying yes to one is the right answer.