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Can you refuse a breath test during a drunk driving stop?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

The average person doesn’t understand their rights well enough to be their own advocate in court or while dealing with the police. People might not understand the federal and Ohio rules that protect them or that limit their rights.

For example, many people know that the Fifth Amendment protects them from self-incrimination, but they may attempt to invoke this crucial civil right at the wrong moment. During a traffic stop where a police officer suspects you of drunk driving, they will probably ask you to perform a chemical breath test.

Can you refuse to perform that test on the basis that you do not want to incriminate yourself?

Ohio has laws requiring testing compliance

Driving may feel like a necessity, but it is a privilege. The state has the right to impose certain limitations on that privilege. The implied consent law in Ohio requires all drivers to submit to chemical testing when an officer has probable cause to suspect chemical impairment.

If your answers to their questions or your performance on the field sobriety test makes an officer think that you are under the influence of alcohol, they have the right to ask you to perform a chemical breath test. While they cannot force you to perform the test, the implied consent law gives them possible grounds to arrest you for refusing.

There will be licensing penalties for refusing a test

The first time an officer accuses you of refusing a test that they had probable cause to request, you will lose your Ohio driver’s license for a year. For any subsequent offenses, the suspension of your license could last for up to five years.

Drivers worried about implicating themselves during a traffic stop may want to explore other ways to defend themselves, such as challenging the breath test results or showing an alternate explanation for why they failed the test. Understanding the drunk driving laws in Ohio can help you avoid or better respond to pending criminal charges.

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