Every driver dreads those flashing blue lights behind them, indicating that they have to pull over. So many things can go through your mind when you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer. If you have been drinking, the stakes get even higher, and the pressure can really start to mount. What should you do if you have been pulled over and you know the officer is going to investigate whether or not you’ve been drinking? You know that a breath test could be forthcoming, but the thought crosses your mind: “do I really have to take the test? Don’t I have the right to refuse it?”
Ultimately, yes, you could choose not to submit to a breath test. However, that doesn’t mean refusal is a good idea. Known as “implied consent” Michigan law states that every driver has to submit to some kind of test if the officer has probable cause to believe that a driver has been driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. That test can be a blood sample, a breath test, or a urine sample. State law also requires that you perform a preliminary breath test, which works as a form of field sobriety test. The results of such a test can be used against you to determine probable cause.
You do have the right to refuse this test, but doing so will make you subject to paying a fine and losing your driving privileges. Even if you refuse the test, you might still be arrested, because the officer might have another reason to believe you were driving under the influence. You will then have to take a test anyways. If you do decide to refuse the test, then the officer should inform you that your license would be suspended. The penalties for refusal start with a one-year suspension.
Meantime, refusing to take a breath test has other consequences as well. By refusing to do so, you could face several other negative outcomes, including fines, community service, and possibly jail time, if you end up being convicted. In fact, if it’s your first OWI conviction, the penalties could be more severe for refusal than for the actual conviction because you might go to jail if you refuse. Plus, refusal will not necessarily help you avoid being convicted because the prosecution could use the fact that you refused the test against you.
If you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, it is almost always better to submit to the test than to refuse it. In any case, if you have been pulled over for OWI/DUI in Flint, then you should contact the criminal defense team at The Law Offices of Bradley J. Friedman right away. Timing is important so don’t delay. Get in touch with us as soon as you can by calling our office or click here to connect with us online.