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Have you ever considered that there are potential legal consequences to refusing a breathalyzer test? In Missouri, you are free to refuse the test, but if you do, you will face various penalties, including license revocation.
Whether you want to know ahead of time about the consequences of refusing a breath test, or you or someone you know recently refused the test after being pulled over on suspicion of driving while under the influence, this article will briefly explain what you need to know.
While we make every effort in this post to ensure you understand the legal consequences, we highly recommend seeking legal counsel before and after refusing a breathalyzer test.
DUIs and Breathalyzer Tests
In the state of Missouri, if you are intoxicated or under the influence, you are not legally allowed to drive a vehicle. If you attempt to do so and you are pulled over by police personnel or a sheriff, you will be under the suspicion of driving while under the influence (DUI). If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or greater, you will automatically be convicted on a DUI charge.
To test your BAC, the law enforcement officer will ask you to take a breathalyzer test. This test is a device that analyzes your breath to gauge how much alcohol is in your blood. If you consent to it, you will be asked to breathe into a disposable mouthpiece. The law enforcement officer will then check the device, and if your BAC is too high, you will be convicted; if it is less than 0.08%, other evidence will be required before they can charge you with a DUI.
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Missouri
The consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test in the state of Missouri are significant. Although a person is well within their rights to decline the test, this does not mean they won’t face potentially life-altering penalties.
Before refusing a breath test, you are allowed to contact a lawyer, but you must ask to do so, and you will only have 20 minutes. For this reason, it is best to know the laws ahead of time and contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If a person already refused the test, a lawyer can help them get fair legal treatment.
The penalties for refusing to take a breath test in Missouri after being pulled over are as follows.
If you refuse to take the test, the law enforcement officer has the right to revoke your license. This license revocation will last one full year, and the officer will remove your license on the spot. They will provide you with a Notice of Revocation, which will go into effect after fifteen days.
During this time, you can challenge the revocation, but if you are unsuccessful, the suspension will go into effect for one year, regardless of whether you are ever criminally charged or convicted.
In addition, if you had any prior alcohol-related suspensions, revocations, or convictions on your record, you will not be allowed to drive at all for 90 days. After this period, you can apply for limited driving privileges, but you will be required to install an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months on any vehicle you intend to drive.
Refusal to take a breath test will appear on your driving record forever.
Evidence in Court
In addition to license revocation, in Missouri, refusal to take a breathalyzer test can be used as evidence against you in court. If your DUI case goes to trial, the prosecutor can argue that your refusal indicates you were trying to hide your impairment or intoxication. For this reason, while you may have refused the test because you did not want to get a false positive, which can occur quite often, your refusal could be used against you to prove the DUI charge.
Another potential consequence of refusing the breath test is forced testing. In Missouri, a law enforcement officer can go to a judge and request a warrant that would allow them to forcibly test your BAC. In the event that the judge issues the warrant, you would no longer be allowed to refuse either a breathalyzer test or a blood test. Furthermore, the officer would then have the right to do the breath or blood test by force if it was necessary.
The final penalty you could face if you refuse a breathalyzer test is one that occurs during the license revocation period. If you must drive during that time, you may be allowed to get a limited license. A Limited or Restricted Driving Privilege will enable you to drive during that year while your license is suspended, but you are only allowed to travel to work, school, or alcohol counseling.
To apply for this limited license, you are required to complete a SATOP (Substance Awareness Traffic Offender Program), install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, and obtain SR-22 insurance, which is the minimum car insurance required by law.
What Happens Next?
If you recently refused a breathalyzer test in Missouri or are unsure whether you should accept or not if you are asked to take a breath test, we encourage you to contact a DUI lawyer. Kansas City law firm Sloan Law Office, LLC can get you the legal advice and counsel you need. Get in touch with us today!