What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Refusing to Consent to a Breathalyzer

Being pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving can be a challenging experience, especially when you do not know what the best method is to get out of legal trouble and are not sure of the laws. First and foremost, we encourage you to contact an experienced Rhode Island lawyer to get the best possible help with your DUI charges.

Understanding Implied Consent Law

By mere possession of a driver’s license in Rhode Island, you are required to take a chemical test to assess your blood alcohol content level. Rhode Island’s “implied consent” law states that in the case that you are lawfully arrested by a police officer who has probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you automatically give your consent to take a chemical test. This can be up to two of the following tests:

Are There Exceptions to the Implied Consent Law?

Although in some cases you can prove lawful non-consent for a blood test, it is not the case for a breath test. In the situation that you have any particular and legitimate reason for not submitting to a blood test, such as for medical or religious purposes, you will need to take proactive measures and file an affidavit. This does not, however, excuse you from the breathalyzer test and you are still required to consent.

Penalties for Not Consenting

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of refusing to consent to a breathalyzer, you will not be given a criminal conviction for this particular offense. Instead, as it is a civil infraction, it will appear on your driving record. Your license will also be immediately suspended. If you, on the other hand, are convicted of DUI, it is a criminal conviction and will result in a criminal record.

This is not to say that refusing to consent is the lesser of two evils, it is just to make you aware of what you are up against and to understand the repercussions. In fact, many of the same fines, fees, and other penalties are similar for the two types of offenses.

Fighting Your Refusal Case

In order for your refusal to submit to a breathalyzer to be used against you, the state would need to establish that you were properly read your rights but that you knowingly refused.

If you were charged with drunk driving, you should reach out to an experienced attorney at your earliest convenience. As your Rhode Island attorneys for DUI charges, we can provide you with the information you need and the guidance you deserve.


Contact us today for further answers and legal guidance you can trust!


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