Pulled Over for a DWI? Don’t Make This Mistake

Refusing a Breathalyzer or other drug or alcohol test during a traffic stop could result in a suspended license. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The police have pulled you over for drunk driving and, while you felt confident when getting behind the wheel, now you’re not so sure that you’re under the legal limit. It’s a difficult situation to be in, but there is one mistake that could make it worse.

If an officer asks you to blow into a Breathalyzer or take any other type of chemical test, do not refuse!

Legally speaking, there are very few ways to avoid the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer during a traffic stop. New York State’s implied consent law means that every time you get behind the wheel you accept law enforcement’s right to test you for drugs and alcohol should they deem it necessary. Refusing to take a Breathalyzer or other drug test in New York violates this law and will automatically lead to a DMV hearing. This hearing is separate from any other legal proceedings that may result from the traffic stop.

Once the DMV confirms your refusal at the hearing, you will likely face a one-year license suspension, even if you are later found not guilty of drunk driving. In addition to the suspension, many drivers are often fined up to $500. Subsequent refusals, or a refusal within five years of a previous drunk driving conviction, can lead to an 18-month license suspension and even greater fines.

Many drivers refuse to take a Breathalyzer or chemical test in the hope that the lack of concrete evidence will make it easier to fight the drunk driving charge in court. There are some rare cases when that is true, particularly if you can maintain a sober and controlled demeanor throughout your encounter with law enforcement. However, even if you do avoid a drunk driving conviction, you must be prepared to either accept the suspension or fight it at the DMV hearing.

One argument used is that some medical conditions, such as diabetes and acid reflux, can lead to false positives in select field tests. However, in those circumstances the police will typically ask you to take a test at the precinct, where there is access to more accurate equipment and tests that won’t give false positives. If you don’t tell the police about your medical condition at the time of the traffic stop, the judge overseeing the DMV hearing will ask why not, and will also likely require proof of the condition.

The law does not provide a lot of wiggle room on this issue. If you are facing a license suspension due to refusing a Breathalyzer, the best course of action is to hire a skilled attorney who can help you argue your case.

A suspended license is more than an inconvenience – it makes it a felony to get behind the wheel. Getting caught driving with a suspended license could result in being charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO). Best case scenario, a conviction for AUO would result in fines ranging from $200 to $500, plus 30 days in jail. For AUO in the first-degree, however, you could face up to $5,000 in fines and an indefinite prison sentence.

If you or a loved one has been charged with refusing a Breathalyzer, drunk driving, or for driving without a valid driver’s license, it is absolutely vital to hire an attorney who can negotiate with prosecutors and minimize or avoid the cost, fines, and jail time associated with a conviction. Call the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our top-rated attorneys.

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