When a person registers and receives a driver’s license in New York, that person also gives implied consent to taking a chemical test in case he or she is ever arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Not only does a person face increased penalties for refusing to participate in a breathalyzer or other chemical test, that person also will likely meet harsh penalties from the DMV. These penalties include a revoked license, a hefty fine, and even jail time.
The purpose behind these tests is that they are assessments to determine someone’s blood alcohol/drug content and can be used to help convict drivers alleged to have been driving drunk. Knowing this, many suspected drunk drivers want to refuse the tests, hoping the absence of evidence will work in their favor. Following an arrest in New York, you will have a refusal hearing within fifteen days at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you cannot make it and fail to go, you will automatically lose your right to a hearing. At this point, the DMV can take whatever steps it likes against you.
Why Some People Refuse Chemical Tests
Despite the high likelihood that refusing to take a breathalyzer will lead to additional problems, many New York motorists refuse to engage in a breathalyzer or chemical test. Some of the most common reasons why people refuse these tests include:
- The belief that refusing to provide breathalyzer results will make it more difficult for the state to establish sufficient intoxication evidence.
- Dislike or fear of law enforcement.
- Moral standing against police testing.
Remember, even if you refuse to provide a breathalyzer or chemical test results, New York State can still establish intoxicated driving in other ways. It is a much better idea to provide breathalyzer results in most situations and then retain an experienced New York DUI/DWI attorney who can help you create a strong defense to respond to any ensuing charges.
There are, however, some situations in which a person has a valid reason for refusing a breathalyzer test. These situations include:
- Improper directions. Law enforcement must inform drivers clearly and directly about what will happen if the driver refuses a test. If law enforcement does not provide sufficient instructions about how to blow into the breathalyzer, you should refuse the test.
- Medical conditions. Some medical conditions can prevent a person from providing enough air for an accurate blood alcohol content test. Some of these conditions include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.
- Your Sixth Amendment right has been denied. Under the Sixth Amendment, people in certain situations are entitled to the effective assistance of counsel. The right to counsel is triggered most times following three events — the beginning of criminal prosecution, before arraignment, or by requesting counsel or invoking the right to an attorney while in police custody. Since the late 1960’s case of People v. Gurnsey, New York courts have held that an individual detained for a DWI has a qualified right to an attorney before submitting to a breathalyzer. As a result, Motorists in New York are allowed to speak with a lawyer before submitting a blood alcohol content test. You should always exercise this right. If law enforcement prohibits you from accessing your lawyer, you should refuse the breathalyzer.
The Penalties for Refusing a New York Breathalyzer or Chemical Test
A person in New York can end up facing several penalties for refusing a breathalyzer or chemical test. These penalties include:
- Civil fine. Motorists face a fine of $500 for refusing to take a breathalyzer test.
- New York law enforcement can arrest an individual and place them in custody, pending arraignment if they refuse a breathalyzer test.
- Suspended license. Refusing either a breathalyzer or chemical test in New York results in a one-year license suspension. A second or additional refusal within five years results in an 18-month suspension.
Defenses to Breathalyzer Refusals
There are several strong defenses that an experienced attorney can often help you raise if you refused to provide breathalyzer results in New York, which include:
- The arresting officer must make it clear that your license will be revoked if you refuse the test. Law enforcement must state this information twice. If these steps are not taken, it might be possible to have your driving privileges restored. In some cases, violation of these orders can even result in having charges dismissed.
- Law enforcement must have probable cause to perform the stop of your vehicle. If probable cause does not exist, the resulting charges will likely be dismissed.
Speak With a Driver’s License Attorney Today
If you believe that you have been unfairly refusal a driver’s license or want to defend against the loss of such privileges, one of the best steps you can take is to speak with an experienced attorney. Contact Nave Law Firm today at 855-349-NAVE (6283) to schedule a free case evaluation.