Getting stopped by a police officer can be stressful even if you don’t think you have done anything wrong. Drivers may feel even more overwhelmed if the officer suspects them of driving under the influence of alcohol. If the officer observes signs of intoxication (e.g. bloodshot eyes, slurred speech), the officer may ask the driver to submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of the stop. However, drivers should know that they can refuse to take the test, as long as they are willing to face the consequences of doing so.
Should I refuse a breathalyzer?
Under Mississippi’s implied consent laws, all drivers legally are required to submit to blood or breath tests upon request from an officer. In other words, simply by having a driver’s license in the state of Mississippi, you implicitly consent to testing. Refusing a Breathalyzer will result in an automatic suspension of your license for 90 days (if it is your first refusal).
While losing your license is a serious consequence, it may be worth it to protect yourself from a DUI conviction. Prosecutors often depend on Breathalyzer test results to establish that the driver’s blood alcohol level was above .08 (the legal limit) at the time of the traffic stop.
While Breathalyzer results are not always accurate, it can be difficult for defense attorneys to dispute a BAC level that is above the legal limit. If there is no Breathalyzer evidence in the first place, your defense attorney may have an easier time building a case in your favor. If Breath test results are not available, prosecutors will have to rely on other evidence, including police officer observations and possibly field sobriety tests (which you may also refuse) to prove their case, and many times, there is not enough convincing evidence available to get a conviction.
A drunk driving arrest does not always lead to a drunk driving conviction, even if you did not refuse a Breathalyzer. If you are facing a DUI conviction, a criminal defense attorney can help get your charges dropped.