Michael A. Ferraro, Esq., P.C.
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What if I refuse to take a Breathalyzer test in New York?

On Behalf of | Sep 24, 2021 | DWI defense |

If you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, you will likely be asked to take a Breathalyzer test to ascertain your system’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Drivers who are accused of driving while impaired (DWI) often wonder whether they should agree to a Breathalyzer test or not.

Will refusing to blow into the machine help you? Probably not. That being said, it is important to understand that refusal to take a breathalyzer test has its share of consequences under New York’s state law. 

New York is an implied consent state

The legal point that you must always be aware of is the fact that driving in New York — like anywhere else — is a privilege rather than a legal right. You earn this privilege after meeting certain conditions, such as passing your driving test and legally obtaining a driver’s license. 

Also, you are only granted the privilege to operate a motor vehicle after agreeing to abide by certain conditions and regulations. These conditions include something known as “implied consent.” 

So what does implied consent mean?

Typically, New York’s implied consent law includes the following:

  • Having your driver’s license and proof of insurance every time you are driving and producing them each time you are asked to do so by law enforcement
  • Yielding to field sobriety tests as requested
  • Yielding to blood, breath and urine tests to determine your BAC level is asked

Refusal to blow into a Breathalyzer can have severe consequences

In light of the implied consent law, refusal to take a breathalyzer test can attract severe penalties. In New York, the penalties for refusal may include the following:

  • Immediate suspension of your driver’s license for up to 18 months
  • Increased fines
  • Refusal can be used as evidence during trial as consciousness of guilt

There may be a rare instance where refusing to blow into a Breathalyzer might be a wise decision — but that’s generally something you should discuss with your legal counsel. In the end, if you are pulled over on drunk driving suspicion and you are intoxicated beyond the acceptable limit, refusing to take the breathalyzer test can worsen your situation.