Refusing to take such tests, such as a blood alcohol test, can leave a person with more severe penalties than that if they actually took a sobriety test and failed a portion.
Under implied consent laws, a person who has applied for and obtained a driver’s license in a state, has given their implied consent for participating in a blood alcohol test of either blood, breath, or urine, if requested by an officer. This also pertains to field sobriety tests. If the person refuses to take such tests, as politely as they can, they are subject to punishment under these laws. The punishment they can expect can include fines, license suspension, jail time, revocation of vehicle registration, and additionally insurance surcharges.
Also, if in addition to this, the driver is subsequently convicted of DUI, they will face further punishment, which will be more severe. These cases are difficult for a DUI defense, and usually go in favor of the prosecution. In most states, once a person refuses a chemical test, their licenses are automatically suspended for a period of at least one year, and the refusal will be used against them in an implied consent hearing. Since the penalties vary by states, a person could furthermore face more penalties, such as points on their driving record and fines.
The refusal of such tests can be taken on record as an admission of guilt in the matter and be used against that person’s DUI defense in court, during their case. In some cases, an officer can seek a warrant from a magistrate (if one is available at the time) to administer a blood alcohol test, especially if a serious accident has occurred (especially those resulting in death). In this case a person would face all the penalties of the refusal in an implied consent hearing as well as the criminal charges to come.
These penalties could include additional license suspension to that given by the initial refusal and do not violate the terms of double jeopardy. This is because states have carefully planned this out by placing the license suspension due to implied consent under administrative action of a Department of Motor Vehicles. Since the DMV is a civil agency, they cannot administer criminal offenses. Once the person faces the penalties of the court in an implied consent hearing, they will be subject to criminal penalties which could include the added license suspension, and this is how they can bypass the double jeopardy issue.
In Vermont and California, a driver may be sentenced to jail time if they refuse a chemical alcohol test, if they had previously been convicted of a DUI. However, some states became stricter; Alaska, Minnesota, and Nebraska may hand down jail time to drivers refusing a test on their first occasion. The fines associated with refusing to take a test can be as high as $10,000 in some cases, with additional court fees and higher insurance rates. Implied consent laws are nothing to be disregarded, and must be looked over when first accepting a driver’s license. It’s also wise to pay attention to the penalties they impose in other states that a person will be driving in. Facing and implied consent hearing, a person charged must build up a strong DUI defense in order to have any chance to combat the charges.