Can you refuse to take a breath test in New York?

New York has taken steps over the years to crack down on drunk driving. Harsh penalties are a means of deterring potential offenders. Unfortunately, innocent people also get caught up in drunk driving suppression efforts. Whether it’s getting home late when you have a babysitter because of a road block or facing unfounded criminal charges, citizens can and do feel negative impact from enforcement efforts. If you get stopped, either individually or as part of a roadblock, you may feel tempted to refuse the test. Doing so, however, could prove to be a serious mistake.

If you had issues with a field sobriety test or appear to be impaired, a law enforcement officer could ask you to submit to a breath test to check for the presence of alcohol. There could be a number of reasons why you may want to refuse this test. You could have taken a medicine with alcohol in it or be in need of insulin, which could result in a false positive. You could find the practice invasive. You could just be in a rush and want to get home. Regardless of the reason, your refusal is actually a crime under New York law. You have to take a breath test if law enforcement asks you to do so.

Implied consent means you have to take the test

New York state law is very clear about breath tests. Anyone who drives on public roads gives implied consent to roadside sobriety testing and chemical breath testing. If you want to drive, you have to agree to submit to testing when requested to by law enforcement. The act of refusing a test is in itself a crime. Your license can get suspended when you are arraigned in court. If the courts determine that you did, in fact, refuse the test, the courts will then revoke your license for a full year and assess a fine of $500.

If you refuse a chemical breath test within five years of a driving while impaired (DWI) or breath test refusal, you’ll get fined $750 and lose your license for at least 18 months. Even if you aren’t convicted of a DWI or other impaired driving offense, you will still lose your license. Although you want to avoid the consequences of a DWI, refusing a roadside test isn’t the answer.

Simply refusing the test doesn’t mean that the courts can’t convict you, either. Even without a chemical test to show your blood alcohol content, video from law enforcement cameras and testimony from the arresting officer may prove sufficient evidence. Law enforcement can bring up your refusal to take the breath test during court for your DWI charge as well. Refusing a breath test won’t protect you from legal trouble, but it can certainly cause a lot of other issues.

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