New York recognizes the “implied consent” doctrine, which means that any person who operates a motor vehicle on the state’s roads consents to a chemical (blood or urine) test to determine their blood alcohol (BAC) level should law enforcement require them to do so. This test is administered when you are pulled over for a drunk driving investigation.
During the DUI stop, one of the questions you might have is whether you have to take the breathalyzer test or not. And as with most legal issues, the answer is that it depends. That said, it is important to understand that refusing to yield to a lawful breathalyzer test comes with its share of repercussions.
So what happens if you refuse the breathalyzer test in New York?
A first chemical test refusal will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for at least one year. Additionally, you will pay a civil fine of $500. Subsequent refusals carry even stiffer penalties. Do keep in mind that these penalties apply regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted of drunk driving or not.
Defending your refusal
If you are charged with refusing the breathalyzer test, it is in your best interest to figure out your defense options. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you can cite the following defense:
The arrest was unlawful
For a DUI arrest to be lawful, the following elements must be satisfied:
- The police must have probable cause for the DUI stop and detention. This means that you must be violating traffic laws to justify the stop.
- The police must have reason to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
If these elements are not satisfied, the resulting stop and arrest can be deemed unlawful. This means that you not only have a defense for refusing the breathalyzer test but any DUI charges brought up against you as well.
If you or a loved one is charged with DUI and refusal to take the breathalyzer test, you need to explore your defense options.