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What You Need to Know About Refusing a DUI Test

Oct 20 2017, by Sean Hessler in Legal Blog, OWI

When you are arrested in Indiana for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, known as an OWI or DUI, the police are going to ask you to take a breath, urine, or blood test. The purpose of these chemical tests are to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A blood test provides the most accurate BAC result, while a breath test offers an estimate of your BAC based on an equation that calculates the amount of alcohol in your blood, based on the level of alcohol detected in your breath.

When you are asked to submit to a DUI breath or blood test, it can be difficult to decide what to do. Do you go through with it and avoid all of the potential civil and criminal consequences? Or do you refuse, which can limit the evidence against you, causing you to face potential penalties? The best way to answer these questions is to ask the police to let you contact an experienced DUI defense attorney.

Hessler Law is here to help. For a free consultation of your case, contact us today at (317) 886-8800.

Indiana’s Implied Consent Law

Any person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to take a chemical test in adherence with Indiana law. Based on Indiana Code Section 9-30-6-2, an officer who has probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence of alcohol must offer you one or more chemical tests, which may include submitting you breath, urine, or blood. To comply with the state’s implied consent law, you must submit to each of the requested tests. If you refuse, you violate the implied consent law and will face civil and criminal consequences.

The Difference Between Breath and Blood Tests

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, breath and blood tests after a DUI arrest are not to be treated the same. Officers have the right to ask you to submit to both of these types of tests. If you refuse, you can face civil consequences under the state’s implied consent law. However, whether you can be criminally punished depends on other facts. The police do not have to obtain a warrant to require you to submit to a breath test. If you refuse a breath test, you can expect to face both civil and criminal penalties. However, the Supreme Court found blood tests are much more invasive. To force you to submit to a blood test, the police need to obtain a warrant. If you refuse a warrantless blood test, you can only face civil consequences, but not additional criminal penalties.

The Civil Consequences of Refusing a DUI Test

If you refuse to take a chemical test following a DUI arrest, your driver’s license will be suspended. For a first-time refusal, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will suspend your license for one year. A subsequent offense can lead to a two-year suspension.

You will receive notice of the administrative suspension from the BMV by mail in the days following your arrest. The notice will inform you that your license is automatically suspended based on your refusal to submit to a chemical test. The suspension goes into effect seven days after you receive notice, or on the date determined by the court, whichever is first.

To try and avoid a civil driver’s license suspension, you must file a request for an administrative hearing within 20 days of receiving notice.

The Criminal Penalties for Refusing a DUI Test

If you refused a lawful request for a breath, urine, or blood test, then you may face additional criminal consequences during your DUI case in addition to your administrative license suspension. Your refusal can be admitted into evidence during your DUI trial. A prosecutor may try and use your refusal as evidence of your guilt.

Let Our Indianapolis DUI Lawyers Help You

If you were arrested for an OWI/DUI and you refused to submit to a breath or blood test, contact us at Hessler Law immediately. The consequences of refusing a BAC test in Indiana can be severe. However, we are here to thoroughly review your situation and help you defend your rights before the BMV and in criminal court. We will fight for you to get your license back as soon as possible.

For a no-obligation consultation of your case, call Hessler Law today at (317) 886-8800.