question.jpgIn Criminal Law

Can I refuse a blood-alcohol test?

You can refuse a blood-alcohol test, but it’s not always suggested. However, in many states, refusal is not even an option. Indeed, if you live in an “implied consent” state, the mere ownership of a drivers license gives a law enforcement officer implied consent to conduct blood-alcohol tests if the officer believes you may be under the influence (through, for instance, the use of field sobriety tests). In implied consent states, if you refuse to take a blood-alcohol tests, you have your driving privileges taken away automatically, regardless of whether you are intoxicated. In fact, in some states, the suspension of a drivers license for refusing to take the test may actually last longer than a suspension for a DUI conviction, and can lead to harsher penalties if convicted. Furthermore, the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination does not apply to blood-alcohol tests, so you must consent if asked (or face a driver’s license suspension).

However, there are some situations in which it may be advisable not to take the test anyway, even in implied consent states. These instances usually occur if you’ve already been convicted of one DUI, and a second conviction might lead to increasingly stiff penalties (such as fines and extended jail times). Nevertheless, refusal to take a blood-alcohol test does not mean you won’t be convicted of DUI; indeed, a jury could see refusal to take the test as evidence of guilt. Moreover, if you have never been convicted of a DUI, it’s probably best just take the test and take your medicine.