It’s late at night and you’re driving home when it happens: the blue and red lights start flashing in the dark behind you. This can be a frightening experience under any circumstances, but particularly if you’ve had a drink or two. It’s important not to panic when you pull over, however, because the decisions you make in the next few minutes can have dramatic consequences.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer?
Arizona has a law known as “implied consent,” meaning that by driving on roadways in the State of Arizona a driver agrees that if he or she is arrested for a DUI-related offense, the driver will submit to a test of his or her breath, blood, urine, or other bodily substances to determine the levels of alcohol or other drugs in the driver’s system. Consequently, your right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer is different depending on whether or not you are under arrest.
What Happens if I Refuse Before I Am Arrested?
Although Arizona’s implied consent law contains what may seem like a loophole, don’t expect to be able to take advantage of it. While it is true that before a driver is arrested in Arizona he or she has the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, Arizona police officers are not stupid people and are very familiar with this law. In most cases they will not ask you to submit to a breathalyzer until after you are placed under arrest. In the rare event that they do and you refuse, the most likely outcome is that they will simply arrest you and then demand you submit to the test.
What Happens if I Refuse After I Am Arrested?
If you are placed under arrest for suspicion of a DUI or for an offense related to a DUI and you refuse an officer’s instruction to complete a breathalyzer test, the officer is required to inform you that refusing to submit to the test will result in your license being suspended. If it is the first time you have refused a breathalyzer, your license will be suspended for one year. If you are arrested again within seven years and again refuse a breathalyzer, the suspension is doubled to two years. Additionally, you will be required to submit to a drug and alcohol screening before your license can be reissued.
Even if you refuse the breathalyzer, the officers can compel you to submit to testing if they get a search warrant. Additionally, they will confiscate your driver’s license, issue you a temporary license that is valid for 15 days, and issue a suspension of your license that takes effect after 15 days are up. You have the right to challenge the suspension on any of four grounds by claiming that:
- Law enforcement officers did not have reasonable grounds to suspect you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Law enforcement officers did not place you under arrest;
- You did not refuse to submit to the test; and/or
- You were not informed of the consequences of refusing to submit to the test.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you shouldn’t try to navigate the court system on your own. Even small decisions you make can have big impacts on your case, and not always the impacts you would expect. Our office has been representing drivers’ accused of driving under the influence for years, and our attorneys specialize in defending drivers against DUI-related charges. If you were arrested for a DUI and would like to speak to an attorney, call us today to set up a free legal consultation.