CRIMINAL DEFENSE • DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATIONS & HEARINGS

What are the consequences of breath test refusal in New York?

Posted January 9, 2015

When faced with the possibility of a drunk driving charge, an accused individual may feel overwhelmed. If you have been in that situation, or ever contemplated that situation, you may have wondered what would happen if you refused to take a breath test, following being pulled over by authorities.

New York’s implied consent law operates so that drivers in New York, by driving in the state, provide consent to chemical tests, such as a breath test, when arrested for an alcohol-related violation. When an accused individual refuses to submit to a breath test, the driver’s license will be suspended when they are arraigned on the alcohol (or drug) related charge they were arrested for.

The DWI process is divided into criminal penalties and administrative penalties. As such, it is important to be aware that it is permissible for it to be brought up in court during a criminal trial for the charges that the accused individual refused to take the requested breath test. Criminal penalties for a DWI can be significant and present serious consequences for the personal and professional life of the accused party.

Administratively, if it is confirmed by the Department of Motor Vehicles during its hearing that the accused individual refused the breath test, the individual’s driver’s license will be revoked for one year even if they are not found guilty of the alcohol- (or drug) related charge. In addition, the accused individual may face a $500 fine for refusing to take the breath test. Penalties can increase for additional DWIs or breath test refusals during a specified period of time.

Because of the serious nature of DWI charges, and serious consequences that surround refusing to take a breath test, it is important to be familiar with the legal protections that may be available to accused individuals. Understanding the protections of a criminal defense can be critical for individuals facing drunk driving charges.

Source: New York State DMV, “Chapter 9: Alcohol and Other Drugs,” Accessed Jan. 7, 2015

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