Whether or not to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop is not easy. It is a decision made in a stressful environment in the heat of the moment. Each choice comes with its own set of potential consequences.
The Consequences of Taking the Test
The consequences of rolling the dice on a breath test will depend on the results. If your blood alcohol content is .08 or above, you will be under arrest for operating while intoxicated (OWI). Criminal penalties include jail time and fines. However, perhaps the most severe punishment for your day-to-day life will be the suspension of your driver’s license.
If your BAC is below .08, likely, you will not be arrested for OWI. However, this is not simply a numbers game; you can be arrested for OWI with a BAC below .08 if your driving was consistent with someone operating under alcohol or drugs. For example, swerving back and forth across lanes plus .05 could result in OWI charges.
The Consequences of Refusing the Test
There is no roll of the dice when you refuse the test. The penalties are straightforward and will start coming at you quickly. The penalties for refusal include a one-year driver’s license revocation and the requirement to use an ignition interlock device in your vehicle to get your license restored. A refusal will not be considered an OWI for your record, but it will count as a “prior offense” if you are arrested for OWI in the future.
Whether you submit or refuse, one thing remains the same: you need an experienced OWI defense lawyer guiding you through the legal process to protect your rights and your future.