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What Happens If You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Indiana?

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense | 0 comments

If you are pulled over in Indiana and an officer suspects you of driving under the influence (DUI), also referred to as operating while intoxicated (OWI), you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. This measures your blood alcohol content (BAC) by analyzing your breath. If you refuse a breathalyzer test, Indiana’s implied consent law states that refusing this test has serious consequences.

What Is a Breathalyzer Test?

A breathalyzer test is a tool used by law enforcement to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s body, specifically in their bloodstream. It’s a common test administered when there’s suspicion of someone driving under the influence of alcohol. The test is quite straightforward – you blow into a device, often portable and handheld, which then analyzes your breath to estimate the percentage of alcohol in your blood. In simple terms, it helps determine if you’ve been drinking and if the alcohol level in your body exceeds the legal limit. In many places, including Indiana, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% is considered the legal threshold for intoxication while operating a vehicle. The breathalyzer provides a quick and non-invasive way for law enforcement to assess whether a person may be driving under the influence.

Implied Consent Law

By obtaining an Indiana driver’s license, you automatically agree to take a chemical test if a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence (DUI). These tests, which can include analyzing your breath, blood, or urine, aim to detect any signs of intoxication. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test, for example, goes against this implied consent agreement. The law is in place to ensure that drivers cooperate with authorities in determining their level of impairment when there’s a reasonable suspicion of drunk driving. It’s a way to maintain road safety by holding drivers accountable for their actions related to alcohol consumption while operating a vehicle. Remember, refusing these tests can lead to significant consequences, such as license suspension and other legal penalties. 

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

There are several penalties that you may face if you refuse a breathalyzer test from an officer in Indiana. 

These include:

License Suspension

The main penalty is that your license will be suspended for 1 year if it is your first DUI offense. For repeat offenses, it is suspended for 2 years. You can request a hearing within 20 days to contest the suspension, but it is very difficult to fight.

DUI or OWI Arrest

breathalyzerEven without a breath sample, an officer can still arrest you for DUI or OWI based on observations during the traffic stop. Refusing the test does not allow you to avoid charges. In fact, it may hurt your case by seeming like an admission of guilt.

No Hardship License 

With a suspension for refusing a breath test, Indiana does not allow hardship licenses. These restricted licenses let you drive to work, school, medical appointments, etc. You must arrange for transportation.

Additionally, if your DUI/OWI charges are dropped or you are found not guilty, you will not be able to get your license back if you refused a breathalyzer test during the initial investigation. Your license will remain suspended for the duration of the original period.

Should I Ever Refuse a Breathalyzer Test? 

There are instances where someone might consider refusal, such as if they believe they are not over the legal limit or suspect inaccuracies in the test. However, it’s essential to weigh the potential risks listed above.

Given the severe consequences, it’s generally recommended to carefully consider the situation. Cooperation during a traffic stop, followed by consulting with a criminal defense attorney to navigate legal proceedings, may offer a more effective strategy than an immediate refusal, which could lead to license suspension and other legal complications.  

What Should I Do?  

If you find yourself under investigation for driving under the influence (DUI) in Indiana, taking the right steps is crucial to navigate the legal process effectively.

Here are some recommended actions:

  1. stay calmRemain calm and cooperative: Stay calm during the traffic stop and be cooperative with law enforcement. Avoid confrontations, and provide the necessary information, such as your license and registration.
  2. Field sobriety tests: You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, which are physical or cognitive exercises.
  3. Breathalyzer test: To avoid harsher penalties and a longer process, comply with officers when requested to perform a breathalyzer test in Indiana.
  4. Request an attorney: If you are arrested, you have the right to request an attorney. It’s essential to exercise this right to ensure your legal rights are protected throughout the process.

Get Legal Guidance from Zentz & Roberts, P.C.

Remember, each DUI case is unique, and consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial to developing a defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. An attorney can assess the evidence, challenge any procedural errors, and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

You don’t have to navigate this sensitive journey alone. Contact the experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyers at Zentz & Roberts, P.C. We’ll work to help you protect your driving privileges and help you see the best outcome following this challenging situation. 

You can get started today by scheduling a free consultation with our team. Schedule your consultation online or call us at 317-220-6056. 

***Please note: This page is not intended to give specific legal advice but is meant for information purposes only. Contact us to discuss your case***