In the United States, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution gives us the right to refuse to do anything that could be self-incriminating. Many people take this to mean that they should refuse a field sobriety or a Breathalyzer test if they’re stopped on suspicion of drunk driving by police. While you may think that there’s little chance that you can be convicted of a crime for a refusal, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Almost every state has implied consent laws on the books. Essentially all motorists must agree to meet certain conditions or regulations in order to earn the privilege to operate a car. When most of us sign the document to receive our driver’s license, we agree to abide by our state’s implied consent laws.
In most jurisdictions, this law requires all motorists to carry both their license and proof that they have insurance at all times. They must be able to provide those to law enforcement when they ask for it.
By signing the informed consent statement, a motorist also agrees to perform any field sobriety tests requested of them and any breath, urine or blood testing needed to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC).
Even if you sign a statement agreeing to abide by the implied consent laws, it’s still possible for you to refuse this testing. If you do, your license may be automatically suspended. That suspension can last for as long as a year. You may be ordered to pay hefty fines as well.
In some states, especially during enhanced enforcement periods, there may be a “No Refusal” policy in effect. If it is, then law enforcement may be able to request an immediate search warrant on any motorist who declines a Breathalyzer test or blood sample.
It’s also possible for a refused Breathalyzer test to be taken as evidence that you’re guilty of a driving under the influence.
While in most cases, you have the option of refusing a Breathalyzer test if you’re stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, doing so can result in an outcome in your case that is far different from what you may have expected. A Baltimore breath test refusal attorney can advise you of what the potential consequences are for having refused field sobriety or Breathalyzer testing in your own legal matter.