When an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI and requests you to take a breath analysis test, you may feel it is in your right to turn it down. After all, the test itself is somewhat invasive.
But due to something called an implied consent law, this assumption isn’t entirely accurate. Why is that the case, and how should you handle breath analysis tests accordingly?
Defining implied consent
The National Constitution Center discusses reasons not to refuse a breath analysis test. As mentioned, implied consent laws have something to do with this. An implied consent law applies to situations in which the average person could assume that someone gave their consent for something, despite not having verbal or written proof. As an example, people generally do not have to sign waivers to receive vaccinations because making the appointment and following through on it serve as proof of consent.
In the case of driving, simply using public roads can serve as consent to DUI-related tests in order to help protect the safety of everyone else using the same roads. In other words, the moment you start driving on publicly accessible roads, the case can be made that you have consented to a DUI test such as a breath analysis test.
Of course, officers cannot physically force you to take these tests. However, if you insist on refusing, they must by law explain to you the potential consequences you face in doing so. This could include a period of license suspension, as well as potential jail time or fines.
Refusal even after this point could result in more penalties than is worth it, which is why it is generally the wiser idea to simply take the breath analysis test.