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When you first applied for your driver’s license, you agreed to abide by certain laws called implied consent laws. These laws state that you will agree to both a field sobriety test and a portable breathalyzer test if you are ever stopped for suspected drunk driving.

You could be pulled over because a police officer observed you driving erratically. In some cases, you may drive through a random DUI checkpoint. In either situation, an officer may ask you to do a field sobriety test or take a breathalyzer test. Police officers use portable breathalyzers to obtain your breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). Many people wonder if they can legally refuse a breathalyzer test.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Yes, you always have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test. A police officer cannot force you to blow into a portable breathalyzer. You can also refuse to do a field sobriety test. However, this does not mean you are off the hook.

There are consequences just for a breathalyzer refusal, whether or not you are intoxicated. In most states, refusing a portable breathalyzer test comes with its own set of penalties. This means that even if your BAC was under the legal limit for your state, you could still face a suspended license and other penalties.

What Happens After a Breathalyzer Refusal?

In addition to a breathalyzer test, your BAC can also be determined from a simple blood test. In some states, if you refuse a breathalyzer test, a police officer can obtain an immediate search warrant for a blood test. This means even if you refuse a breathalyzer test, your BAC may still be known and on record.

The consequences for refusing a breathalyzer test vary for each state, and may include:

  • A driver’s license suspension, which could last up to 12 months
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Your vehicle insurance company may stop your coverage

If you already have a prior DWI conviction and refuse a breathalyzer test, you could face even stiffer penalties just for refusing.

Keep in mind that these penalties are in addition to any DWI charges you may be facing. Before you decide to refuse a breathalyzer test, you should think about the potential consequences. The odds are good that a breathalyzer refusal will make your situation worse, not better.

Staying Safe on the Road

Only driving when you’re sober ensures you stay safe on the road. Contrary to the popular myth, there is no “safe” BAC level for driving. If you do drink, either stay where you are, call a cab, or get a sober friend to drive you home.

Driving while sober means you can confidently agree to a breathalyzer test or a field sobriety test. If the police do stop you or you drive through a DUI checkpoint, you have nothing to hide or worry about. You can honor the agreement you made to follow your state’s implied consent laws.

Draeger Interlock is Your Partner for Safe Driving

Not driving while intoxicated is the best way to prevent a DWI. However, we know DWIs do happen. If you’ve been convicted of a DWI, you may need to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

At Draeger Interlock, we can help you stay compliant and get you back on the road. We know you have several options when it comes to ignition interlock providers. We appreciate our customers. You can expect top-notch service and respect from our customer service agents and our service technicians. Please contact us for more information about our ignition interlock devices and installation.

*Links to any third-party websites herein are provided for your reference and convenience only. Dräger did not create nor develop, and does not own, any such third-party websites. Dräger does not endorse nor support the content of, nor any opinions stated in, any such third-party website links. Dräger is not responsible for the content of any third-party website or its accuracy or reliability. Nothing contained in this article or in any such third-party website shall be considered legal advice or be deemed to constitute legal advice. For any legal advice concerning a DUI arrest, charge, conviction or consequences thereof, you should contact an attorney of your choice.