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Can you refuse a breathalyzer test?

Like many states throughout the country, Massachusetts has strict laws that govern how alleged drunk drivers are charged. Questions still remain about an individual's rights after being pulled over or arrested on suspicion of DUI/DWI/OUI, such as "do I have to take the breath test?" It is within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer or any other field sobriety tests. However, it is important to know that there are consequences for refusing.

Refusal Penalties

Anyone who holds a Massachusetts driver's license is legally required to submit to any field sobriety tests that an officer requests, due to implied consent. This means that when you obtained your driver's license, you automatically agreed to cooperate with requests and directions given by law enforcement.

You can refuse field sobriety tests, as well as breath, blood or urine tests, but are facing the suspension of your driver's license under Melanie's Law:

  • First refusal: up to 180 days suspension of driver's license
  • Second refusal: up to three years driver's license suspension
  • Third refusal: up to five years license suspension
  • Additional increased penalties for those who refuse and are under the age of 21 or who have a previous drunk driving conviction on their records

It may be possible to obtain a hardship license if it is your first refusal and you have enrolled in a first offender's program. Your lawyer can determine if you potentially qualify for this program and if it may be a possibility instead of another avenue of resolving the case.

Talk To An Attorney

It is best to always be cooperative with police, but to know your rights. There are many situations in which refusing a breath test may be beneficial in the subsequent DUI/DWI/OUI case against you. However, it is difficult to know at the time whether or not a refusal will work in your favor or against you. If you have questions about your situation, you should talk to lawyer who has a full understanding of the Massachusetts DUI/DWI/OUI laws and procedures regarding refusals.

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