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Pulled Over for a Brethalyzer Test – Now What?

I’ve been pulled over, do I submit to a breathalyzer test?

You have probably heard plenty of advice on what to do if/when you are pulled over for a DUI. Should you refuse the breathalyzer test? Should you take the breathalyzer test? This is a complicated area of law with no simple “one size fits all” answer. The answer often depends whether or not you’ve had any alcohol, how much you’ve had and over what period of time and the size of the individual. The liver only processes 1 ounce of alcohol per hour; therefore the type and amount of alcohol combined with the weight of the person factors in when calculating your blood alcohol level.

Breathalyzer tests are administered to drivers who have been pulled over by police on suspicion of drunk driving. Police will first request that you take field sobriety tests in order to determine if you are intoxicated. You always have the tight to refuse these FSTs.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer?

The short answer is yes. There are other chemical tests to determine your blood alcohol content (Preliminary Breath Test or “PBT”s are administered in the field after FSTs, which you can also refuse). Although the breathalyzer test results are inadmissible in court, they assist the police in determining whether or not to arrest you.

What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer?

There are consequences to refusing to submit to a breathalyzer whether or not you are actually convicted of a DUI. As soon as you refuse a breathalyzer test, your license is automatically suspended following your arraignment in court. In Rhode Island, your license is a privilege, not a right and can be taken away from you civilly on the basis of a refusal charge. Other penalties depend on whether or not you have previously refused. The penalties are as follows:

First Offense Refusal

  • $200.00 – $500.00 fine
  • Ten (10) to sixty (60) hours community service
  • Six (6) to twelve (12) months loss of license
  • Participation in DUI School or alcohol counseling

Second Offense Refusal

  • Up to six (6) months imprisonment
  • $600.00 to $1,000.00 fine
  • Sixty (60) to one hundred (100) hours community service
  • One (1) to two (2) years loss of license
  • Alcohol counseling

Third Offense Refusal

  • Up to one (1) year imprisonment
  • $800.00 to $1,000.00 fine
  • Not less than one hundred (100) hours community service
  • Two (2) to five (5) years loss of license
  • Alcohol counseling

So what do I do?

If you are absolutely certain you will pass a breathalyzer test, then you should always submit to one. However, if there is even a slight chance you may fail, you probably would want to refuse.

I’ve been charged with a Refusal and/or DUI, what do I do now?

If you are charged with a Refusal and/or DUI, your best bet is to contact an Attorney who is experienced in this area of law. Attorney Archambault understands the anxiety individuals experience when facing criminal charges. Therefore, he takes the time to meet with his clients to explain the charges and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their case. Schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your case with Attorney Archambault.