Everyone has done it. It’s a late night out with friends, you’re coming home from the bar, and an officer stops you for suspicion of driving drunk. After handing over your information, they ask you to step out of the car and take a field sobriety test.
You might find it easy to touch your nose or follow a flashlight, but there’s no faking a breathalyzer test. While your first instinct might be to refuse, it’s the worst thing you could possibly do. Here’s why refusing a breathalyzer test is bad idea.
Most people refuse to take the test because they feel as though it is self-incriminating. In actuality, not taking the breathalyzer is ten times worse than whatever BAC you’re about to blow. By refusing, you break the law of implied consent. Every state includes this on your driver’s license renewal, and it includes submitting to any blood-alcohol related tests the state deems necessary.
The second myth is that not having your BAC on file means there’s no evidence. While that’s partially true, refusing to take the test is evidence enough in court. In most cases, you will be detained and forced to take the test in jail or forced to take a blood test on the spot. This can cause a higher reading once the final drinks you had work their way through your system.
In some states, refusing to take a breathalyzer test is immediate grounds for suspending your license. Instead of considering this a consequence to a criminal action, the state counts it as an administrative one. By breaking your commitment to implied consent, you’re simply losing your driving privileges.
Just like in any DUI case, you can expect to lose your license for anywhere from six months to a year. You might also have to pay additional fees and penalties to have your license renewed. A judge may increase your initial fines based on your refusal, as well.
While the myth persists that a lack of blood-alcohol levels is a lack of evidence, there’s more ways to pin you to the crime. An officer’s observations at the scene are considered hard evidence in court. That could include the officer smelling alcohol on your breath, hearing you slur your words, or seeing you stumble.
Without your BAC on file, the judge can only go on what the officer says. They might also rely on video footage if the officer’s dash cam was running. This can hurt your chances in court when looking for a plea deal or trying to lessen your sentencing.
In an Accident
Aside from being pulled over, you might also be asked to take a breathalyzer test after an accident. Ask any car accident attorney, the court isn’t going to look kindly on your refusal if you’re liable for someone else’s injuries.
The stakes are higher in personal injury and criminal cases, which means fines and suspensions can drastically increase. You might also face more time behind bars as a result. While it might seem like a good idea at first, it’s better to take the test and face the music than pile on your punishment.