Missouri DWI/DUI: Refusal to Take a Blood, Breath or Urine Test

In Missouri, if you get pulled over for a DWI 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

Missouri law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test if you are arrested for a DWI. Missouri’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 while intoxicated, 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 when you were last driving and the officer who arrests you gets to choose which test you take. He or she could ask you to take two tests, but no more than that. If you decided to take the test or tests, then you can have additional tests taken by a medical professional of your choice.

Once you are arrested, the officer should tell you that if you refuse to take a test, then evidence of your refusal can be used against you in court and that the state will revoke your license. At that point, you could ask to speak with your lawyer. The officer should give you twenty minutes to contact your lawyer and have a conversation. Whether you are able to reach your lawyer or not, if you refuse to take the test after that time, then you will have to face the consequences listed below.

You can read Missouri’s implied consent law in Missouri Revised Statute 577.020.

Refusing to Take the Test

1st Offense

2d Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year license revocation

1 year license revocation; ignition interlock device must be installed

1 year license revocation; ignition interlock device must be installed

Once you refuse to take the test, the officer who arrested you will take your license right then. You will, however, get a temporary driving permit that is good for fifteen days. The officer should also give you information on how to request a hearing to challenge your suspension.

If this is your first refusal, the suspension will last for one year. You must also complete and pay for a substance-abuse traffic offender program, unless the court waives that requirement. The only way to get the court to do so is to request a separate hearing to explain why you should not have to attend this program. If you have refused a test before or if you have had a prior conviction for a DWI, then the court cannot grant your request; the program is mandatory. You cannot get your license back without proof that you completed it.

The length of the suspension is the same – one year – for your second or any subsequent refusal. You must also attend a substance abuse traffic offender program, as explained above. Additionally, after you finish the year-long suspension, you have to install an ignition interlock device on your car for six months.

In most situations, if you refuse to take a mandatory blood, breath, or urine test, then you cannot be forced to do so. There are exceptions, however. An officer can order a test without asking you first if you are involved in an accident that causes a serious injury or death, even if you are rendered unconscious or dead.

You can read more about the penalties for refusal in Missouri Revised Statute 577.041.

Should You Refuse to Take a Mandatory DWI Test in Missouri?

It usually does not help you to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DWI. In Missouri, you might avoid time in jail if this is your first DWI, but you will go to jail for 10 days or more if this is your second or subsequent DWI. You will have to balance that risk against the known penalty of losing your license for one year for refusal. Refusing the test, however, does not guarantee that you won’t be convicted. You can still be found guilty of a DWI 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 DWI.

Get Help With Your DWI

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

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