Refusing a Breathalyzer or Chemical Test
If you are stopped by a police officer for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, you may think refusing breathalyzer, blood, or urine tests is a good idea. After all, why should you practically hand the cops evidence that you were driving while impaired with alcohol or drugs? Or perhaps you are refusing breathalyzer or other chemical tests because you feel such tests are insulting or violating. But the act of refusing breathalyzer or other chemical tests has its own severe penalties irrespective of any criminal findings.
Implied Consent Laws
Every state, including Arizona, has “implied consent” laws. Under this law, the approval of your driver’s license application is contingent on giving consent to field sobriety (balancing) tests and chemical tests – breathalyzer, blood or urine. These tests are used determine whether you are impaired. If you don’t give consent, you face the consequences of a refusal. This may include losing your driver’s license.
What If I Agree?
In Arizona, once you expressly agree to take the chemical test, it must be given within two hours of when you were driving. The police officer has the discretion of deciding which chemical test to give you. And you are expected to submit to it. If the results of the chemical test reveal that you were impaired, then the police officer has probable cause to charge and arrest you for DUI.
Notably, if you are not driving but you have actual and physical control of a vehicle while you are under the influence, the implied consent laws are still applicable. Generally, actual, physical control refers to when your motor vehicle is turned on and you are able to make the car move.
What If I Refuse?
Even if you refuse to take a chemical test when requested, there’s a good chance the police will obtain the information anyway. For example, let’s say you refuse the breath test. The police can then speedily obtain a warrant to test your blood or urine for alcohol or drugs. Thus, not only will you be faced with the penalties of refusing to take a chemical test when asked, it would have been all for naught. The police can make you take the test anyway.
Penalties for Refusal
If an officer has reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence, by refusing breathalyzer or other chemical tests, you risk automatic license suspension and potentially other penalties. The consequence of refusing a breathalyzer or other chemical test varies by state. But in Arizona, your driver’s license is immediately suspended for 12 months. Or 24 months for a second refusal in 84 months (7 years). That means the moment you refuse, the police officer will take your license away. He or she will also file a report that suspends your license or permit. Meaning, you cannot drive yourself home. You will need to either call someone to pick you up or take a trip to the police station and wait there.
What About “After You’re Arrested?”
Under Arizona law, you must submit to a BAC test after being arrested. But this is not a loophole. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test prior to the arrest, you won’t just lose your license. You could still be charged with DUI. And don’t be fooled. If a police officer requests that you agree to a chemical test, it usually means that the officer already has enough evidence to arrest you.
Contact a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer
Speak to an experienced DUI lawyer with the Law Office of Howard A. Snader, LLC to challenge the results of the chemical test. It’s important that you weigh both the risks and the benefits of refusing breathalyzer tests. Call 602-737-3195 to learn more.