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

In Michigan, if you get pulled over for an OWI (operating while intoxicated) and the officer asks you to take a blood, breath, or urine test, do you have to take one? What happens if you refuse?

Implied Consent

Michigan law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test if you are arrested for an OWI. Michigan’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC).  The test must be taken as soon as possible from the time when you were last driving. The officer gets to choose which test you take, but the law gives a special exemption for diabetics, hemophiliacs, or people taking anticoagulants – they don’t have to take the blood test.

Additionally, Michigan law says that you consent to taking a preliminary breath test, even if you have not been arrested. This works like a field sobriety test. The officer will use the results to establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence. You could refuse to take this test, but you would have to pay a fine. In addition to this fine, refusal of this preliminary test probably won’t work in your favor if the officer has some other reason to think you had been drinking. Based on that other reason, the officer could still arrest you and then you will be required to take a test under the law described in the paragraph above.  

You can read about the preliminary breath test and Michigan’s implied consent law in the Michigan Compiled Laws 625(a) and 625(c).

Refusing to Take the Test

 

1st Offense

2d offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year license suspension

2 year license suspension

5 year license suspension

Once you are arrested, the officer should tell you that if you choose to take a test, then you also have the right to have an additional test taken by a person of your choice. The results of all the tests could be used against you in court. The officer should also tell you that if you refuse to take the test, then your license will be suspended. At that point, if you decide to refuse then the officer must give you written notice that you have 14 days to request a hearing to challenge the suspension. Although the state cannot force you to take a test without a court order, the officer could go get one and then you would have to take a test.

In Michigan, the penalties for refusing to take a blood, breath, or urine test begin with a one-year suspension of your license. You will lose your license for two years if this is your second or any subsequent refusal within the last seven years.

The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in the Michigan Compiled Laws 257.625(f).

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory OWI Test in Michigan?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for an OWI. In Michigan, you face community service, fines, and potentially jail time if you are convicted of an OWI. It’s possible that the consequences for a first OWI are less severe than those for refusal because you might avoid going to jail. There is no guarantee this will happen, however. Also, your refusal might not be enough to avoid a later OWI conviction. You could still be found guilty of an OWI even if you refuse and the state does not have proof that your BAC was over.08%, the legal limit for those over 21. In fact, the prosecution can use your refusal against you by arguing that you refused the test because you knew that you were intoxicated and guilty of OWI.

Get Help With Your OWI

If you have been arrested on an OWI charge in Michigan or any other state, get help from an experienced OWI attorney. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for an OWI has serious consequences – especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent OWI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about your state’s laws and about how the system works in your county’s court.

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