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Know Your Rights: Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

What happens If I refuse the breathalyzer

It was a Friday night and you stopped by your favorite bar and had a couple of drinks with friends after work. 

On your way home, you see flashing red and blue lights and your stomach sinks. You think you may not pass a breathalyzer test.

You may feel that to refuse breathalyzer tests would insulate you from potential trouble, that by refusing you may help your case.

Is this the best option? What are the consequences of this approach? 

Here we discuss whether you have the legal right to refuse a breathalyzer test. Is there a penalty for refusing a breathalyzer test? Keep reading to learn more.

Can You Refuse Breathalyzer Tests?

The short answer is, yes you can. But the real question is, should you?

When an officer has stopped you and believes that you have been drinking, they will likely ask you to take a test to check your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). 

Knowing more about how breathalyzers work can help; some factors like medications can affect the results.

Your first thought may be to refuse the field test and postpone testing your intoxication level until you sober up. 

It is within your rights to decide whether are not you follow the officer’s request during a DUI check. 

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test does not end all possible consequences; so do this at your own risk!


Implied Consent Law and Consequence 

The first and most important thing to know about field tests for blood alcohol concentration is that all fifty states have various “Implied Consent” laws which can cause forfeiture of your driving privileges if you refuse a breathalyzer. 

States can choose to revoke your license, charge you fines, and even in some cases put you in jail for refusing a breathalyzer test.

The state of Louisiana, for example, will impose a 1-year suspension on the first refusal.

Any further refusals double that suspension to 2 years or more.

Getting a DWI can have other serious consequences which can be confusing for someone not trained in the law. If you or someone you care about has pending charges for driving while intoxicated, contact a DWI defense attorney

Fighting The Charge

Every step of the arrest process is often affected by refusing a breathalyzer.

Refusing a breathalizer places a greater burden on the arresting officer to observe and record probable cause for the DWI. This can give you better leverage in the case of obtaining a not-guilty verdict or for plea-bargaining. 

Get a lawyer who will likely attempt to show that the officer did not have probable cause when trying to make the DWI arrest. 

Need a Good Lawyer?

If you or someone you care about has already caught charges for DWI, you should look into getting a lawyer before you make any legal decisions.

Often, people tend to roll over instead of standing their ground in a case where they could win.

Especially if you choose to refuse breathalyzer tests, you should hire professional legal counsel.

Should you need to hire a lawyer for DWI or other criminal offenses, we can help.

Contact us today so we can start building your case right away.

Carl Barkemeyer wrote the published book on DWI: Practical Information for the Accused and Attorneys in Louisiana. He regularly gives lectures and advice to other attorneys regarding how to successfully defend clients for DWI.

Louisiana DWI & Criminal Lawyers

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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