Indiana OWI/DUI: Refusal to Take a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

In Indiana, 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

Indiana law requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you are arrested for an OWI. Indiana’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 officer could ask you to take more than one test. You must take all of the tests that an officer offers unless you are willing to face the consequences of refusal. The test or tests must be given within three hours of when you were last driving.

If you were driving and involved in an accident that caused a fatal or serious injury, then an officer must ask you to take one or more chemical tests. Once you are unconscious, however, the officer does not have to ask – you can’t answer anyway. The law says that you still consent to a test of your blood or urine even if you are unconscious.

You can read Indiana’s implied consent law in the Indiana Code Annotated 9-30-6-1.

Refusing to Take the Test

1st Offense

2d Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year suspension of license

2 year suspension of license

2 year suspension of license

Once you are arrested and refuse to take a test, the officer should tell you that your license will be suspended for your refusal. At that point, you could change your mind and submit to a test. If you don’t, then the officer cannot force you to take a test, but he or she will take your license. You will have an opportunity to get your license back at a hearing that should be set within 20 days of your arrest. At the hearing, if you cannot convince the court to return your license, then your suspension will last for one year for your first refusal. If you have had any prior refusals, then your suspension will last for two years.

The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in the Indiana Code Annotated 9-30-6-9.

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

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for an OWI. In Indiana, the consequences for refusal are milder than those for an OWI, which include jail time, at least 180 hours of community service, and assessment for and possible enrollment in an alcohol deterrent program. Refusing the test does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted – you can still be found guilty of an OWI even if your refusal means that 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.

(Check out our blood alcohol content chart for an estimate of how many drinks it takes to get to the legal limit.)

Get Help With Your OWI

If you have been arrested on an OWI charge in Indiana 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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