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Can I Still Be Charged If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

So you’ve been pulled over by the police, and you’ve had a drink or two; yet you have been driving carefully, and you haven’t done anything on the road that would even constitute a reasonable cause for being pulled over! When they ask to administer a breathalyzer test, you can simply say no and be on your way, right? After all, what reason could they have to force the issue? ¬†Well, as you may already know, refusing a roadside breath test can be a big tip-off to the officer-in-question that you may have something to hide after all. In that case, they will probably insist. If you refuse again, could you still be brought in?

Privileges vs. Rights

Why yes, you could still end up in court. If an officer of the law ever attempts to administer a breathalyzer test and you refuse, the officer can simply claim that they have reasonable cause to think that you are driving while intoxicated and haul you in to be booked and charged for driving while under the influence of alcohol. This seems unfair to some, but that is only because the way the law looks at driving on a road is a little different from what we’re generally used to.

Driving is a privilege… not a right. The road you’re on is owned by the government and is not private property, while your ability to drive is regulated and given (or taken away!) by the state in the form of your driver’s license. Given all of this, it’s no surprise that under “implied consent laws,” you are considered as a licensed driver to have implicitly consented to a blood-alcohol test in return for being allowed to drive.

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Thus, the second you get behind the wheel, you’re considered fair game for a breathalyzer, and your driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of 120 days starting on day 46 after the stop when you refuse to take one.