Indiana’s DUI Implied Consent Law and Refusing a Blood, Breath, or Urine Test

If you were involved in an accident or are arrested for OWI, can you refuse to submit to a portable breath test or chemical testing?

By , Attorney · Thomas Jefferson School of Law

In most DUI cases, the arresting officer will ask the driver to take a blood, breath, or urine test. But what happens if the driver doesn't want to take one of these tests? Are there consequences for refusing?

This article covers Indiana's implied consent law and the penalties a driver will face for refusing a drug or alcohol test.

Indiana's Implied Consent Law

Under Indiana's implied consent law, any person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to a chemical test of breath, blood, urine, and/or another bodily substance.

However, to lawfully require a driver to take one of these tests, the officer generally must have probable cause to believe the driver has committed an "operating while intoxicated" (OWI) offense or was involved in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury to or death of another person.

Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer or Other BAC Test in Indiana

Consequences of refusing a test can include:

  • driver's license suspension
  • ineligibility for specialized driving privileges
  • ineligibility for reinstatement of driving privileges (if found not guilty of the OWI charge)
  • consecutive license suspensions
  • conviction of an infraction, and
  • evidence of the refusal being used by the prosecution in criminal court.

However, the specifics of the penalties depend on the circumstances.

Administrative License Suspension for a Breathalyzer or BAC Refusal in Indiana

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will suspend the license of any driver who unlawfully refuses to take a PBT and/or chemical test. The suspension periods are:

  • one year, or
  • two years if the offender has at least one previous OWI conviction.

When a driver refuses to take a chemical test, the arresting officer can immediately take the person's license. The suspension generally takes effect seven days after the date of the notice of suspension.

Drivers Who Refuse Breathalyzers or BAC Testing Are Ineligibility for Indiana's Specialized Driving Privileges

Generally, a motorist whose license has been administratively suspended can obtain specialized driving privileges. These privileges allow the offender to drive during the suspension period as long as an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed in the vehicle. However, motorists who refused to submit to chemical testing aren't eligible for specialized driving privileges.

Drivers Who Refuse Breathalyzers or BAC Testing Are Ineligibility for Reinstatement of Driving Privileges if Found Not Guilty of an OWI Charge

The BMV will generally rescind an administrative suspension and reinstate an offender's driving privileges if:

  • the criminal OWI charge is dismissed, or
  • the defendant was found not guilty of the OWI charge.

However, an offender who refused to submit to chemical testing at the request of an officer having probable cause to believe the offender committed an OWI offense isn't eligible for reinstatement of driving privileges.

Indiana's Consecutive License Suspension Rule for Cases Involving Refusals

Typically, a defendant whose license has been suspended by the court as a result of a criminal OWI conviction will receive credit for the time the offender's license was administratively suspended. But an offender whose license was administratively suspended for refusing to take a chemical test isn't eligible to receive credit towards the court suspension.

Infraction Fines for Indiana Breathalyzer and BAC Test Refusals

A motorist who refused to take a PBT and/or chemical test at the request of an officer having reason to believe the person operated a vehicle that was involved in a fatal accident or an accident involving serious bodily injury can be convicted of a class C infraction. If the motorist has at least one previous OWI conviction, a conviction for the refusal is a class A infraction.

A class C infraction is punishable by a fine of up to $500, plus court costs. The maximum fine for a class A infraction is $10,000.

Evidence of the Refusal Can Be Used Against a Defendant in a Criminal Case

If a defendant refuses to submit to a chemical test, evidence of the refusal is admissible in a criminal case. This rule allows the prosecutor to suggest to the judge or jury that you refused the test because you knew you would fail.

Talk to an Indiana DUI Attorney

If you've been arrested for driving under the influence or an implied consent violation, you should get in contact with an Indiana DUI lawyer. An experienced DUI attorney can review your case, let you know if you have any good defenses, and help you decide on the best course of action.

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