What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

If you are pulled over for driving while intoxicated, the officer may ask you the deceptively simple question, “Will you submit to a breath test?” Regardless of whether you have had anything to drink, you may not know how to answer.

Your response to the officer’s question can significantly impact your future DUI case. Ultimately, it will fall to you to decide whether to take the breath test after considering the potential risks and benefits of doing so.

Expect to Be Booked and Charged With a DUI

No matter how your breath test comes out, you may not be released from custody even if you provide a breath sample below the legal limit. The probable cause that supported your arrest will likely lead to you being charged with a DUI, despite the breath test results. 

The officer and prosecutor could conclude that whatever alcohol was in your system made you unable to drive safely, no matter your breath test results. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking a breath test below .08 means charges will automatically be dropped.

The Pros and Cons of Taking or Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

When you are asked whether you will submit to a breath test, consider the following benefits of doing so:

  • It will provide a result proving your low alcohol concentration
  • You avoid additional penalties to your license for refusing a breath test
  • A low breath alcohol level could make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove their case

Additionally, law enforcement will usually accept the results of the breathalyzer and not request additional tests unless they suspect that you also consumed drugs. However, submitting to a breath test can work against you if you are indeed intoxicated, as there will then be objective evidence of your intoxication level.

But what happens if you refuse? Refusing a breath test comes with some notable drawbacks:

  • Law enforcement can get a warrant for a blood sample from you, and you cannot refuse to provide a sample once a warrant has been issued
  • You will face a mandatory driver’s license suspension and have to get an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle even if you defeat the DUI charge
  • Prosecutors can use your refusal to argue that you were too intoxicated to drive

In weighing these factors, only you can decide whether the drawbacks are outweighed by the benefits in your case. 

For some, submitting to the breathalyzer test may be the safest option. For others who have consumed alcohol, refusing the test and requiring the prosecution to prove its case without the breath test results may be worth the penalties they will face.

After a DUI Arrest and Charge, Seek Legal Help

Whether you refuse or agree to a breath test, make sure to treat any DUI arrest or charge as a serious matter. If you are convicted of DUI in Wisconsin, you could face significant penalties. 

Even if you did submit to a breath test that showed you were over the limit, a skilled Wisconsin criminal defense attorney can explore other options you may have in your case.