Serving Indiana Since 1994

Can you refuse a breath test during an impaired driving stop?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2020 | DUI/DWI

In order to get convicted of a crime, there needs to be evidence of it. One of the ways that police gather evidence when they want to prove that someone that has violated the law by driving while intoxicated is to perform a chemical breath test during a traffic stop. 

You may already know that you have a right against incriminating yourself. Does that mean that you have the right to refuse a chemical breath test when police ask you to perform one to avoid impaired driving charges?

Consenting to chemical testing is part of having a license

Under Indiana state law, those who drive on public roads have already given consent to chemical testing under the implied consent law. In order to keep the roads as safe as possible, lawmakers included an obligation for those reasonably suspected of impaired driving by officers to submit to chemical testing upon request. 

In other words, although the courts cannot compel you to implicate yourself in a crime, an officer can request that you perform a chemical test. Refusing won’t necessarily prevent an arrest for drunk driving.

What happens when you refuse to take a breath test?

When you refuse a breath test, you violate the state’s implied consent law. The officer involved in the traffic stopped can still arrest if you refuse the test if they have probable cause to believe you are impaired based on your driving or your performance on the field sobriety test. 

You will then possibly face both impaired driving charges and the consequences of violating the implied consent law. The penalties for refusing a breath test will include the suspension of your license for a full year.

Additionally, while there may not be a chemical test verifying it, the officer who stops you can still testify about both the behavior that made them suspect impairment and your refusal to take the test.