Most New Yorkers understand that being stopped by the police on suspicion of driving while intoxicated can involve a test for alcohol. What most people in the state do not understand is that they are absolutely required to submit to such a test if asked to do so by a police officer. The rule that imposes this requirement is commonly called “implied consent.”
Courts ruled long ago that driving is a privilege, not a right, and that the state may attach lawful conditions to that privilege. Implied consent is one such condition. Every person who receives a license to operate a motor vehicle in the state of New York is deemed to have consented to submit to a breath test to determine his or her blood alcohol content or BAC. If the breath test shows that the driver is has a BAC above 0.08 percent, the legal measure of intoxication, the officer can order the driver to submit to a chemical test involving his blood, breath, urine, or saliva.
If a person refuses to submit to a breath test, his or her driver’s license will automatically be suspended for 15 days. During this period, a hearing will be held to determine whether the police officer had “reasonable grounds” to believe that the driver was intoxicated, whether the officer made a lawful arrest, whether the person was warned that his or her license to drive could be suspended and whether the person refused to submit to the test.
If the hearing officer finds in the affirmative on all four questions, the person’s license will be automatically revoked for one year. The suspension will be ordered even if the person is not convicted of the DUI offense. If the person has one or more revocations stemming from implied consent refusals, the period of suspension will be eighteen months. The court can also impose a fine of $500.00.
Refusing a breath test can have serious consequences. An attorney with experience in defending DUI cases should be contacted as soon as possible to determine the proper course of action.
Source: Public.legalinfo.state.ny.us, “New York Vehicle & Traffic Laws, §1194,” accessed March 29, 2015