DUI: Refusal to Take a Field Test, or Blood, Breath or Urine Test

If you get pulled over for a DUI and the officer asks you to take a blood, a breath, or a urine test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?

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Field Testing

There are three standard field (physical coordination) tests that police often administer as a prequisite to further testing. These tests include the horizontal gaze test, one-legged standing test, and the walk and turn test. As a general rule (and unlike chemical testing), there is no legal penalty for refusing to take these tests although the arresting officer can testify as to your refusal in court. 

Implied Consent

In most cases, if an officer suspects that you are driving under the influence, “implied consent laws” require you to take a chemical test (using your blood, breath, or urine) to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Implied consent laws say that by just driving on the road, you are agreeing to take a chemical test to assess your BAC. Implied consent laws vary by state – particularly about which test is required and when it should be given– but every state has them, so in every state you must take the test.

Timing of the Test

In some states, a chemical test must be given within a particular timeframe – usually within a few hours of the time that you were driving. However, even if you took the test after that time, you may still be found guilty of a DUI because even if you can’t be charged with having a BAC over .08 (the legal limit for those 21 years and older), you could still be charged with DUI just based on the officer’s observations of your impairment. To learn about the required timing of chemical tests in your state, go to DUI/DWI Laws in Your State.

Refusing to Take the Test

If you refuse to take the test, you will face heavy penalties – possibly worse than if you were found guilty as a result of the test. The penalties vary by state and usually include a combination of a fine, jail time, license suspension, and required use of a ignition interlock device. Additionally, when your case goes to court, the prosecution can use your refusal against you – saying that you knew you were intoxicated and that’s why you refused to take the test. For all of these reasons, it usually does you no good to refuse to take a chemical test.

On the other hand, if you realize that you are very intoxicated, you’ve had prior DUIs, and you know that the penalty for the current event would be worse than refusal, then refusing the test might work to your advantage.

Laws in Your State

The best thing you can do if you think you may find yourself in this situation is to educate yourself about your state’s laws. See the chart below for the consequences of refusal in your state. Click on your states link to learn more about the your state’s BAC test refusal laws and for the exact statute where you’ll find those laws – that way you can read them for yourself.

Consequences of Refusal in Your State

State 1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Alabama 90 day suspension of license 1 year suspension of license 1 year suspension of license
Alaska 3 days jail; mandatory ignition interlock device; fines up to $1,500 20 days jail; mandatory ignition interlock device; fines up to $3,000 60 days jail; mandatory ignition interlock device; fines up to $4,000
Arizona 1 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license
Arkansas 6 month license revocation 2 year license revocation 3 year license revocation
California 1 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license 3 year suspension of license
Colorado 1 year revocation of license 2 year revocation of license 3 year revocation of license
Connecticut 6 months suspension of license 1 year suspension of license 3 years suspension of license
Delaware 1 year license revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age)

 

1 year license revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age)

 

1 year license revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age)

 

District of Columbia 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspension
Florida 1 year license suspension 18 month license suspension 18 month license suspension
Georgia Suspension of license for 1 year Suspension of license for 3 years Suspension of license for 5 years
Hawaii 1 year license revocation 2 years license revocation 4 years license revocation
Idaho 1 year license suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school)

 

2 years license suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school)

 

2 years license suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school)

 

Illinois 1 year license suspension 3 years license suspension 3 years license suspension
Indiana 1 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license
Iowa 1 year license revocation 2 year license revocation 2 year license revocation
Kansas 1 year license suspension 2 year license suspension 3 year license suspension
Kentucky Minimum 30 day license revocation. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

 

Minimum 1 year license revocation. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

 

Minimum 2 years license revocation. If convicted of DUI after refusing to take test, jail penalty is doubled.

 

Louisiana 6 month license revocation 6 month license revocation 2 days' minimum jail term
Maine 275 day license suspension 18 month license suspension 4 year license suspension
Maryland 120 day license suspension 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspension
Massachusetts 180 day license suspension 3 year license suspension 5 year license suspension
Michigan 1 year license suspension 2 year license suspension 2 year license suspension
Minnesota 1 year revocation of license 1 year revocation of license 1 year revocation of license
Mississippi 90 day license suspension If first offense was a DUI: 1 year suspension of license. If first offense was a refusal to take test: 90 day license suspension.

 

If first or second offense was a DUI: 1 year suspension of license.

 

Missouri 1 year license revocation 1 year license revocation; ignition interlock device must be installed 1 year license revocation; ignition interlock device must be installed
Montana 6 month license suspension 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspenion
Nebraska 90 day license impounded 90 day license impounded 90 day license impounded
Nevada The officer may direct that reasonable force be used to the extent necessary to obtain samples of blood from the person to be tested.

 

The officer may direct that reasonable force be used to the extent necessary to obtain samples of blood from the person to be tested.

 

The officer may direct that reasonable force be used to the extent necessary to obtain samples of blood from the person to be tested.

 

New Hampshire 180 day license suspension 2 year license suspension 2 year license suspension
New Jersey 7 month license revocation 2 year license revocation 10 year license revocation
New Mexico 1 year license revocation 1 year license revocation 1 year license revocation
New York 1 year license suspension 18 month license suspension 18 month license suspension
North Carolina 1 year license suspension No statutory provision No statutory provision
North Dakota 1 year license revocation 3 year license revocation (if one prior offense in last 5 years)

 

4 year license revocation (if two prior offenses in last 5 years)

 

Ohio 1 year suspension of license 2 year suspension of license 3 year suspension of license
Oklahoma 6 month license revocation 1 year license revocation 3 year license revocation
Oregon 1 year license suspension; fine of $500 - $1,000 3 year license suspension; fine of $500 - $1,000 3 year license suspension; fine of $500 - $1,000
Pennsylvania 1 year license suspension 18 month license suspension 18 month license suspension
Rhode Island 6 month license suspension, 10-60 hours community service, $200-$500 fine 1 year license suspension, 60-100 hours community service, $600-$1,000 fine, possibly jail 2-5 year license suspension, 100 hours community service, $800-$1,000 fine, possibly jail
South Carolina 6 month license suspension 9 month license suspension 1 year license suspension
South Dakota 1 year license revocation 1 year license revocation 1 year license revocation
Tennessee 1 year license revocation 2 year license revocation 2 year license revocation
Texas 180 day license suspension 2 year license suspension 2 year license suspension
Utah 18 month license suspension 3 year license suspension 3 year license suspension
Vermont 6 month license suspension 18 month license suspension Lifetime license suspension
Virginia 1 year license suspension 3 year license suspension (if prior refusal occurred within 10 years)

 

3 year license suspension (if prior refusals occurred within 10 years)

 

Washington 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspension 1 year license suspension
West Virginia 1 year license revocation (or 45 days, with an additional 1 year of ignition interlock device)

 

5 or 10 year license revocation Lifetime license revocation
Wisconsin 1 year license revocation 2 year license revocation (offenses must be within 10 years of each other)

 

3 year license revocation (offenses must be within 10 years of each other)

 

Wyoming 6 month license suspension 18 month license suspension 18 month license suspension

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