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Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test if Stopped for DUI?


When a police officer stops you on suspicions of DUI, you are typically required to undergo a couple of tests. These tests are used by the officer to ascertain whether or not you are under the influence. One of the most common and popularly used tests is the breathalyzer test. In this test, you are asked by the officer to blow into a machine known as the Intoxilyzer. Once you blow into the machine, it is able to calculate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is often recommended that you should refuse a breathalyzer test.

However, this doesn’t mean that the state or the police officer will not find another way to test your blood. Refusing a breathalyzer test also comes with its own implications such as an absolute license suspension. Below are your legal rights and obligations as they related to a breath test as well as the reasons why you refuse a breathalyzer test and the penalties you may face for refusing the test.

Breathalyzer Testing in Idaho

According to Idaho Code Section 18-8002, you give implied consent for a breathalyzer test when driving in Idaho. This means that if you refuse a breathalyzer test, you are held in breach of this implied consent. However, this section also lays down the conditions for such a test. A police officer must have sufficient grounds to suspect that you were driving under the influence. Only after the officer makes a lawful arrest are you required to take the breathalyzer test.

Why Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

There are many reasons why you should refuse a breathalyzer test. For one, you can refuse the test and avoid the police officer from gathering DUI evidence against you. In many cases, the officer will rely on this piece of evidence to make the arrest. If you refuse a breathalyzer test as well as the field sobriety tests, the only thing that can be used against you will be the officer’s testimony.

It is also important to note that a portable breathalyzer test’s results are not admissible in a court of law. Any breathalyzer test must meet stringent requirements in order for the results to be admissible in the court. These requirements are detailed in the Idaho Administrative Code Rule 11.03.01. So you can politely refuse a breathalyzer test on the grounds that its results are not legally admissible.

What Happens When You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

When you refuse a breath test, the state of Idaho will impose civil penalties on you. This is because when you receive a driving license, you give your implied consent to the breathalyzer test. Your refusal is then considered a violation of this consent.

Penalties for refusal include a 1-year license suspension as well as mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for 1 year. The license suspension is absolute in this case, which means that you can’t plead for a restricted license as in the case of a proper DUI conviction. You also have to pay a fine of $250.

If you are suspected for DUI a second time within the lookback period and refuse breathalyzer test once again, the penalty is harsher. You face an absolute license suspension of 2 years.

When you refuse a breathalyzer test, a police officer may still be able to determine your BAC. The law allows a police officer to forcibly recover a blood sample if there’s sufficient cause to believe that you are driving under the influence. The blood sample is then used to test your alcohol level.

BAC calculated from a blood sample is more accurate and reliable. BAC results from a blood sample are also harder to fight in a court of law. However, your attorney can argue over whether or not the officer had sufficient cause to forcibly take the sample.

Refusing a breathalyzer test may also be used by the state as an evidence of culpability at the trial. A good DUI attorney can counter this quite effectively if there are is no significant evidence to support the DUI conviction.

Why Hire a Boise DUI Attorney?

If you have refused a breathalyzer test after being stopped for DUI, you may face stiff civil penalties. You may also face a more aggressive DUI trial. This is why you need an experienced Boise DUI lawyer on your side to fight your case. An attorney will help you counter any other evidence presented in the court, such as blood sample BAC.

Here at Boise DUI Guy, we firmly believe that you have every right to fight a DUI conviction. Most DUI convictions are based on faulty evidence, improper officer conduct and haste at the state’s part to impose penalties. If you are facing civil penalties for refusing a breath test or the standard DUI conviction, contact us today. We offer FREE consultation with our attorneys where you can discuss your case in detail.