Can I Refuse a Breath Test?

Can I Refuse a Breath Test?

There seems to be much confusion as to a person's rights when pulled over under suspicion for driving under the influence. One of the most frequent questions we receive at Knowles Law Firm is "Can I refuse to take a breath test?" The answer is yes, you always have the right to choose. No one can force you to submit to this test, but there are potential consequences for doing so.

Arizona law requires that anyone arrested under suspicion of drunk driving must submit to a chemical test. The operative word here is "arrested." Law enforcement can only require that you submit to a chemical test, usually a breath test although in some cases blood or urine tests could be required, after a lawful arrest. If you refused a breath test or took a test and tested .08 BAC or higher, a Phoenix DUI attorney at our firm could potentially build a case around the arrest not being lawful, because at this point a breath test would violate your Fourth Amendment rights.

If you do choose to refuse a breath test, your driver's license will automatically be suspended. Even at this point, you have the right to contest this suspension at an administrative hearing through the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD). This is known as Arizona's "implied consent law" and it can be found in § 28-1321 of the statutes. Immediately upon refusing a breath test, a law enforcement official can serve an order of suspension that will go into effect within 15 days. You have this amount of time to request a hearing to contest this suspension.

Some people choose to refuse a breath test because they do not want to risk having this evidence submitted in their DUI case. What is important is that you retain a skillful attorney for your defense to represent you at the MVD hearing so that you do not lose your driving privileges. If you refuse a breath test and do not contest your suspension by requesting a hearing within 15 days, you will lose your license for 12 months or two years (for a second or subsequent offense within 84 months).

If you or someone you care about has recently been arrested for drunk driving or was pulled over under the suspicion of drunk driving, then contacting a Phoenix DUI attorney from our firm may be the best course of action. At Knowles Law Firm, we know Arizona DUI and traffic laws and have extensive experience in both criminal courts and at administrative license hearings. For a free evaluation of your case, please don't hesitate to call us today.


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