You had a few drinks at the bar, and now you’re heading home. But, you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and know you’re being pulled over. The officer who pulls you over believes you are driving erratically. He or she wants to know if you drank any alcoholic beverages. You decline the officer’s request for a breath test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) because you know you’re likely above the legal limit. You also know that results showing intoxication could be used against you later in court. So, what’s next? Can you refuse a breathalyzer? What happens if you refuse to undergo a blood alcohol test in Phoenix? What about if you’re facing an extreme DUI Arizona charge?
Refusing Blood Alcohol Test in Arizona
In Arizona, submitting to a breathalyzer test is not required unless the officer obtains a warrant. If the driver says no, they won’t like what happens next. A driver’s license suspension of at least one year is the immediate consequence for refusing a breathalyzer test.
This happens even if the person is not convicted of DUI. Simply refusing to take the breath test results in the driver’s license being suspended.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer?
Driving on an Arizona road or highway gives your “implied consent” to blood, breath, or chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) if you are stopped for a suspected DUI or DWI. You always have the option to withdraw your consent, and you can refuse a breathalyzer, but refusing has serious consequences. Losing your driving privileges and possibly facing jail time are just a few possible drawbacks.
Refusing the roadside test and instead requesting a blood or breathalyzer test at the police station is another option. If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI/DWI, this may be in your best interest. As soon as you are charged, call an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Ybarra Maldonado & Alagha Law Group.
Implied Consent Laws in Arizona
As in many other states, Arizona has an implied consent law that you must be aware of. In essence, if you’re suspected of drunk driving and pulled over by a police officer, you agree to take a sobriety test. This means that simply getting behind the wheel means you agree to breath, blood, or urine testing. It’s important to note, though, that an officer needs probable cause that you were driving under the influence before requiring testing.
Typically, you’re arrested immediately if you refuse to do a sobriety test. Refusing multiple tests in a row or having even minor charges, such as disorderly conduct, could result in higher fines and a license suspension. Furthermore, if the police discover you were driving with a BAC above the legal limit, you face a DUI charge and its own set of fines and penalties.
Can you refuse a breathalyzer? Yes, however, the police may issue a search warrant if you resist a sobriety test. This allows them to conduct a blood test with or without your agreement, using force if needed.
Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer?
If you think your BAC is close to the legal limit of .08 (.04 if driving a commercial vehicle), after having a few drinks, declining the breathalyzer may be your best choice. That’s because undergoing the test gives authorities clear evidence you were driving under the influence. When a judge hears your case, there is little legal leeway with this evidence.
Refusing a breathalyzer test is part of your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. This includes refusing to divulge incriminating information, either verbally or in writing, as well as denying a search of your vehicle or refusing a sobriety test.
Even so, you run the risk of having your Arizona driver’s license revoked whether you submit to the sobriety test or not. Prosecutors frequently use evidence of your refusal to take the BAC in court and say it’s evidence of guilt. If you’ve refused a BAC test two or more times in the past, you could face longer jail time and higher fines.
What Happens If You Refuse a Breathalyzer?
Some states have specific regulations for refusing a breathalyzer (which can result in a minor fine) versus refusing a blood, urine, or breath test at a police station or hospital (which can result in more serious consequences).
Even if you’re not arrested yet, refusing a breath test is generally not a good idea because prosecutors use other evidence from the scene in prosecuting a possible DUI/DWI case. Officer observations, witness testimony, or the results of a field sobriety test are relevant.
Penalty for Refusing to Take a Breath Test
If you refuse a blood alcohol test, you face immediate consequences. Following your arrest, the police read you an “Implied Consent Warning.” It discusses the consequences of refusing this test in Arizona. The negative consequences become very real, very soon, after hearing the warning and refusing to accept it.
Suspension of your driving privileges is one of the most common consequences of refusing a breathalyzer. Drivers refusing to take a blood alcohol test, a urine test, or a breathalyzer test face a one-year license suspension. If a second or subsequent test refusal occurs within 7 years, a two-year license suspension happens.
After installing an ignition interlock device (IID), the suspended driver may be eligible for a limited license. This is only possible if no injury or death resulted from the claimed incident. This IID permits the holder to drive with restrictions while their license is suspended.
Criminal prosecution is another possibility. A driver who refuses to undergo a breath test after two previous refusals, or who causes a fatality or substantial physical injury, faces criminal charges. In a DUI/DWI case, the prosecutor can argue to the jury that the motorist refused to take the test because he or she was impaired, leading to a possible guilty verdict. If convicted, the motorist also faces a minimum of $1,250 in fines and a sentence of ten days in jail for a first-offense misdemeanor. However, these penalties are much harsher if the defendant’s BAC was 0.15% or greater.
Can You Refuse A Field Sobriety Test?
The three most popular field sobriety tests utilized by Arizona law enforcement are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test. These tests, however, aren’t always reliable. Without drinking or using drugs, a person can fail any or all of these tests. For example, a previous leg injury can leave a person unsteady on one leg. Furthermore, an officer’s personal assessment isn’t always correct.
Many people refuse a field sobriety test because of this. Also, agreeing to one provides further evidence for the prosecution’s case against them. Can you refuse a breathalyzer and field sobriety tests? Yes, you can’t be forced to do these tests by an officer. So politely reject those tests if that’s what you want.
Top Phoenix DUI Attorneys
The Phoenix DUI attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado & Alagha Law Group are ready to help if you can refuse a breathalyzer test or are arrested and charged with a DUI. Our primary concern is keeping your driver’s license, insurance, and freedom while assisting you in avoiding legal issues. If someone has died as a result of the incident, you may need a vehicular homicide lawyer. The Ybarra Maldonado & Alagha Law Group is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. For a free consultation to discuss your case, please call 602-910-4040 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.