It wasn't that long ago that you could refuse to take a breathalyzer test without much of a serious consequence. Since Thursday, June 23, 2016, however, that is no longer the case. The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 judgment that it is now a crime to refuse to take a breathalyzer test when the police suspect you of drunk driving.
No Warrant Needed
You might have believed that in order for the police to conduct a breathalyzer test when you refused to do so voluntarily, that they would need a warrant to force you to take one. This is not the case. The courts ruled that breathalyzer tests are not invasive procedures so they do not violate your rights in any way. However, if the police wish to have a blood-alcohol test done, then they must procure a warrant to make this happen. The taking of blood is considered more invasive.
Each state and city have their own laws regarding the punishment you could face if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test. In many states, if you refuse to take the test, you risk losing your license for a period of time or spending time in jail. Before the Supreme Court ruling, thirteen states already criminalized a driver's refusal to take the test without a warrant. This included the refusal to have blood or urine tests done as well.
In the states that already had such laws in place, the Implied Consent Laws govern the type and length of punishment you could receive. For example, you could pay fines, lose your license for up to a year and be placed in jail. For those who have previous DUI convictions on their record, the punishment could be much harsher like longer jail sentences or longer license suspension.
The Supreme Court ruling will change how the states that don't have no-refusal laws govern their breathalyzer tests. In no-refusal states, police can force a person who refuses to take these tests without a warrant. The ruling will now allow all states to apply the same actions to those who will not submit willingly.
It may be possible to still contact an attorney before submitting to a breathalyzer test. The reason many refuse is so they don't incriminate themselves. While this ruling applies to the entire country, more than half of the states in the country already have the legal authority to enact the no-refusal enforcement clause.
For more information, contact Daniel M Hernandez Esquire or a similar legal professional.
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