The consequences of your right to refuse a breathalyzer

| Sep 7, 2018 | Firm News

If an officer pulls you over on a DUI suspicion due to your driving, he or she may ask you to consent to a blood-alcohol breath test. The test determines the percentage of alcohol you have in your system and determines whether you may legally operate a vehicle.

You may know that it is your right to refuse a breathalyzer test in the state of Georgia. You may politely explain that you understand your rights not to consent to the test. Unfortunately, you may still face DUI charges, be arrested and taken to jail to receive a warrant to determine your exact BAC level. Many adults do not know, however, that your refusal to consent to a breathalyzer may result in serious legal and criminal consequences.

The Implied Consent law

Under the Implied Consent law, Georgia citizens may operate a vehicle if they hold a valid driver’s license. The law states that if you choose to operate a vehicle, you also imply a consent to take a breathalyzer or chemical test to determine your BAC level at the scene of a DUI suspicion.

Some individuals will refuse a breathalyzer at the scene in hopes of avoiding a DUI charge, but many do not know that you may have to submit to a breathalyzer at the police station, and the time between your refusal and your warranted BAC test may not prove enough to lower your blood-alcohol content.

Criminal penalties for refusal to submit

Refusing to consent to a breathalyzer at the scene is your legal right, but it does not come without consequences due to the Implied Consent law and your valid driver’s license.

Upon your refusal, an officer will explain to you that your refusal may:

  • Suspend your license for up to one year
  • Be added to your criminal DUI charges if convicted of a driving while drunk

Georgia law penalizes those who commit a DUI offense with:

  • A license suspension up to one year
  • Potential for a $300-$1000 fine
  • Jail time

Understand that if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer at the scene, not only will you receive refusal and DUI penalties, you will not prove eligible to apply for a limited driving permit that is often available to first-time DUI offenders.

In addition to the criminal consequences, your refusal to submit to the breathalyzer at the scene may be presented as evidence in court when your DUI case moves to sentencing. Refusing to submit may imply that you knew that your BAC level would indicate your intoxication.

Because each DUI offense proves unique, you want to speak with an experienced criminal law attorney, if possible, before you submit or refuse a DUI test. He or she can determine which option proves best for you based on your current circumstances. Although refraining from driving while drunk constitutes the best way to avoid criminal charges, you will want to hire an attorney in all DUI-related charges.