Will I lose my license if I refuse a breath test?

When it comes to breathalyzer tests, many drivers in Massachusetts are surprised to learn that they will lose their licenses simply by refusing to submit to testing - even though they haven't actually been convicted of a crime. Massachusetts drivers can thank the state's implied consent law for this particularly harsh penalty.

This law essentially says that you have already given consent to breath testing by merely driving on a public roadway - meaning you can face a license suspension if you are arrested for drunk driving and then refuse testing. The length of your license suspension depends on whether you have any previous OUI/DUI related offenses, and can be broken down as follows:

  • Six-month license suspension for a first offense
  • Three-year license suspension if you have a previous refusal or OUI/DUI on your record
  • Five-year license suspension if you have two previous refusals or OUI/DUIs on your record
  • Lifetime license suspension if you have three previous refusals or OUI/DUIs on your record

Ultimately, however, deciding whether or not to take a breath test is not always a clear choice. For instance, while police are required to warn you about a possible license suspension if you refuse, they do not have to inform you about the many other penalties you will likely face if you fail the test and are convicted of OUI/DUI, including possible jail time and fines, which is in addition to a license suspension.

On the other hand, while a refusal will result in an automatic license suspension, prosecutors will have less evidence to use against you - thereby reducing the chances of an OUI/DUI conviction. Also, the fact that you refused testing cannot be used against your in criminal proceedings. In any case, however, it is always best to speak with an experienced attorney if you have any questions regarding OUI/DUI charges and/or breath-test refusals.

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