Massachusetts’s DUI Implied Consent Law and Refusing Alcohol Testing

The requirement to submit to chemical testing when arrested for an OUI and the penalties for a refusal.

As part of an OUI (operating under the influence) investigation, law enforcement normally requests that the driver take a breath or blood test. These tests are intended to determine the amount of drugs or concentration of alcohol (BAC) in the driver's system. Test results often play a big part in the prosecution's case at an OUI trial, so a driver may be tempted to refuse testing in an effort to limit the incriminating evidence. However, the refusal of a lawful testing request will result in separate and serious consequences for the driver.

Massachusetts's Implied Consent Requirements for Breathalyzers and Blood Tests

Massachusetts's implied consent law states that anyone who operates a vehicle within the state is deemed to have consented to a test of the driver's breath or blood. This implied consent requirement applies only to drivers who have been properly arrested for an OUI.

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer or Blood Test in Massachusetts

License seizure. If a driver refuses to submit to a lawful request for chemical testing, the officer is supposed to immediately seize the driver's license. The arresting officer will then give the driver a notice of suspension and forward a report of refusal to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The notice of suspension will indicate that the suspension is effective immediately but may be contested by submitting a request for a hearing within ten days of issuance.

License suspension. Drivers with no prior OUI convictions generally face a 180-day license suspension for a refusal. Drivers with a prior OUI conviction or who are under 21 years old will be looking at a three-year suspension for a refusal. Drivers who refuse testing and have two prior OUI convictions will be suspended for five years. And a driver with three prior OUI convictions will be suspended for life if he or she unlawfully refuses chemical testing.

Also, a driver who refuses testing and has a prior vehicular manslaughter conviction will be suspended for life. If the prior involved serious bodily injury rather than a death, the driver faces a ten-year suspension on the refusal.

License suspensions related to a chemical test refusal will run consecutively (back-to-back) to any other OUI-related suspension. So, if the driver is convicted of an OUI in court, there will typically be two suspensions to complete. Drivers suspended due to a chemical test refusal are not eligible for a hardship or restricted license.

Impounded. After seizing the driver's license, the arresting officer will also have the driver's vehicle impounded for a minimum of 12 hours.

Talk to a Massachusetts DUI/OUI Lawyer

An OUI carries serious consequences. So, if you've been arrested for driving under the influence, talking to an attorney is a good idea. An experienced OUI/DUI lawyer can review your situation and help you decide on the best way to handle it.

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