If you’ve been pulled over while driving and a police officer requests that you take a breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol level, you are free to refuse. However, in doing so, you invite additional penalties. New York, like many other states, has an implied consent law that basically says that anyone who drives on public roads has consented to a roadside breathalyzer test if there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired. In New York, that means an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for six months plus a fine of up to $500. Out-of-state drivers don’t catch a break here; due to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, your home state will likely honor the New York court’s suspension of your license.
The driver who may be intoxicated has a tough decision to make: risk blowing over the limit and being arrested, or refusing to blow, incurring the license suspension. The driver who refuses the test is probably getting arrested anyway, and the information gathered from the roadside test is not admissible in court — so one can argue that a refusal offers the driver no real advantage. However, it can deny the officer a firm basis for making an arrest, which can become grounds for a challenge later on. Drivers who refuse the roadside test might then have to decide whether to double-down and refuse the chemical test at the station, which is considered much more accurate and is admissible in court.
Of course, the driver who refuses to blow soon has two charges to fight: the refusal charge and the DWI. To fight a refusal, you either have to prove the officer had no reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, or had no reasonable suspicion that you were impaired. Reasonable suspicion is a very low bar for law enforcement to get over. So, even if you eventually beat the DWI charge, you could still wind up with a suspended license for the refusal.
Let a skilled New York DWI attorney handle your defense
Drivers who violate the implied consent law need experienced representation to help them retain their driving privileges. If you face a suspension for any reason, call Arthur L. Pressman, Attorney at Law at 716-984-1795 or contact me online.