Implied Consent and Refusal to Take Blood, Breath, or Urine Test

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

When police suspect someone of drunk driving, they will normally ask the person to perfect certain tests. DUI testing generally falls into one of two categories: field sobriety tests (FSTs) and chemical testing.

Field Testing

Generally, police use FSTs to get a better idea of whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are three "standardized FSTs" that police often administer during DUI investigations. Studies have been done that purportedly showed these standardized tests are reliable for gauging intoxication. The standardized FSTs are called the "horizontal gaze nystagmus test," "one-leg-stand test," and "walk-and-turn test." As a general rule (and unlike with chemical testing), there is no legal penalty for refusing to take an FST.

Implied Consent Laws

In most cases, if an officer has probable cause to believe 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 with regard to which test is required—but every state has them.

Timing of the Chemical Tests

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 could still be found guilty of a DUI. To prove a DUI, the prosecution can either prove a BAC of .08% or more (less for underage drivers) or actually driver impairment. So, a BAC test isn't absolutely necessary for a DUI conviction.

Refusing to Take the Test

Drivers who unlawfully refuse to take the test face serious consequences—normally, worse than if you were just found guilty of driving under the influence. Depending on the circumstances, a refusal can lead to license suspension, jail time, fines, and having to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Additionally, if your case goes to trial, the prosecution can typically use your refusal against you—arguing that you knew you were intoxicated and that’s why you refused to take the test.

Consequences of Refusal in Your State

State1st Offense2nd Offense3rd Offense
Alabama 90-day suspension 1-year suspension 1-year suspension
Alaska

3 days jail; mandatory IID; fines up to $1,500 (jail can't be imposed for refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test)

20 days jail; mandatory IID; fines up to $3,000 (jail can't be imposed for refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test) 60 days jail; mandatory IID; fines up to $4,000 (jail can't be imposed for refusal to submit to a warrantless blood test)
Arizona 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 2-year suspension
Arkansas 6-month revocation 2-year revocation 3-year revocation
California 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 3-year suspension
Colorado 1-year revocation 2-year revocation 3-year revocation
Connecticut 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 3-year suspension
Delaware 1-year revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age) 1-year revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age) 1-year revocation (2 years if under 21 years of age)
District of Columbia 1-year suspension 1-year suspension 1-year suspension
Florida 1-year suspension 18-month suspension 18-month suspension
Georgia 1-year suspension 3-year suspension 5-year suspension
Hawaii 1-year revocation 2-year revocation 4-year revocation
Idaho 1-year suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an IID on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school) 2-year suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an IID on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school) 2-year suspension; $250 fine (however, defendants who install an IID on their vehicle may be eligible for a restricted license that allows for driving to/from work/school)
Illinois 1-year suspension 3-year suspension 3-year suspension
Indiana 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 2-year suspension
Iowa 1-year revocation 2-year revocation 2-year revocation
Kansas 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 3-year suspension
Kentucky Minimum 30-day revocation Minimum 1-year revocation Minimum 2-year revocation
Louisiana 6-month revocation 6-month revocation 2-day minimum jail term
Maine 275-day suspension 18-month suspension 4-year suspension
Maryland 120-day suspension 1-year suspension 1-year suspension
Massachusetts 180-day suspension 3-year suspension 5-year suspension
Michigan 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 5-year suspension
Minnesota 1-year revocation of license 1-year revocation of license 1-year revocation of license
Mississippi 90-day suspension If first offense was a DUI: 1-year suspension. If first offense was a refusal to take test: 90-day suspension If the first or second offense was a DUI: 1-year suspension
Missouri 1-year revocation 1-year revocation; IID must be installed 1-year revocation; IID must be installed
Montana 6-month suspension 1-year suspension 1-year suspenion
Nebraska 90-day license impounded 90-day license impounded 90-day license impounded
Nevada 1-year suspension 3-year suspension 3-year suspension
New Hampshire 180-day suspension 2-year suspension 2-year suspension
New Jersey 7-month revocation 2-year revocation 10-year revocation
New Mexico 1-year revocation 1-year revocation 1-year revocation
New York 1-year suspension 18-month suspension 18-month suspension
North Carolina 1-year suspension 1-year suspension 1-year suspension
North Dakota 1-year revocation 3-year revocation 4-year revocation
Ohio 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 3-year suspension
Oklahoma 6-month revocation 1-year revocation 3-year revocation
Oregon 1-year suspension 3-year suspension 3-year suspension
Pennsylvania 1-year suspension 18-month suspension 18-month suspension
Rhode Island 6-month suspension 1-year suspension 2 to 5-year suspension
South Carolina 6-month suspension 9-month suspension 1-year suspension
South Dakota 1-year revocation 1-year revocation 1-year revocation
Tennessee 1-year revocation 2-year revocation 2-year revocation
Texas 180-day suspension 2-year suspension 2-year suspension
Utah 18-month suspension 3-year suspension 3-year suspension
Vermont 6-month suspension 18-month suspension Lifetime license suspension
Virginia 1-year suspension 3-year suspension

3-year suspension
Washington 1-year suspension 2-year suspension 3-year suspension
West Virginia 1-year 10-year revocation Lifetime license revocation
Wisconsin 1-year revocation 2-year revocation

3-year revocation
Wyoming 6-month suspension 18-month suspension 18-month suspension

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