Consequences for Sobriety Test Refusal
Learn about the potential consequences for sobriety test refusal
If you are pulled over for DWI and charged with sobriety test refusal, you will face additional penalties. Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol that is present in the blood stream of the driver. In New York, there are different blood alcohol content levels and limits associated with DWI. For New York drivers over the age of 21, the legal limit is 0.08% for private vehicles. If you drive a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is 0.04%. For drivers under the age of 21, the limit is 0.02%.
There is no sure way to determine exactly how many drinks it would take for an individual to reach the legal limit. Our bodies process and metabolize alcohol at different rates. There are BAC charts available online that are based on the weight of a person, that might prove to be good guideline. The charts are, however, not a guarantee. You should always err on the side of caution and drink less to avoid a DWI.
Understanding Field Sobriety Tests
In New York state, field sobriety tests can happen in three ways. First, you may be given a series of physical tests. These tests enable the officer to formulate an opinion as to whether or not you are intoxicated, and if so, to what degree. Under New York state law, an officer is allowed to make this determination without administering either of the other two tests. The officer can also charge you with DWI if they observe tell-tale signs indicative of intoxication. These include a smell of alcohol emanating from your person, flushed cheeks, watery or bloodshot eyes, an unsteady gait, and so on.
The second type of field sobriety test in New York is a breath test. In a breath test, the officer requests that you blow into a machine for a certain length of time. The machine will analyze the air coming out of your lungs to determine whether or not you are intoxicated at or past the legal limit.
The third type of field sobriety test in New York is a chemical test. Samples of blood, urine or other bodily fluids are taken and tested to determine your BAC. This test usually takes place at the police department or at a hospital following the arrest.
- Field sobriety tests are roadside tests that are used by officers to determine IF the driver is intoxicated.
Understanding Chemical Tests
If you are stopped in New York and are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer might ask you to take a blood alcohol test. In New York, this typically will consist of a breathalyzer test, but it could also be a blood, urine, or saliva test. The purpose of the test is to determine your Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) – essentially the percentage of alcohol in your blood. In New York, driving with a BAC above 0.08% will lead to a DWI charge.
You might be wondering what your options are when an officer in Buffalo asks you to take a blood alcohol test. Buffalo is very strict with their alcohol regulations across the board, and this no tolerance mindset carries over into the blood alcohol testing procedures and policies. In New York, an officer has “implied consent” to require you to submit to a chemical blood alcohol test if he has probable cause that you were operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Essentially, if you drive a vehicle in New York, you are impliedly consenting to any chemical tests should an officer suspect you are intoxicated.
Blood alcohol testing in New York usually is usually performed in two different stages: a pre-arrest “breath test,” also known as a “portable breath test” (“PBT”). This test can be administered if there is probable cause you were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While PBTs are less reliable and less accurate than the testing performed at a police station, they typically cannot be used against you in a DWI trial. More in-depth tests of the officers choosing will be administered after your arrest at the police station. You then have the right to request an additional test, to be administered by the physician of your choosing.
- A chemical test is not a roadside test, and is used to determine HOW intoxicated the driver is after an arrest has been made.
Repercussions of Sobriety Test Refusal
When you are stopped for DWI or DWAI in New York State, the officer has certain tools at his disposal that he may use to determine whether or not you are driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. One of those tools is called a field sobriety test. There are numerous of these field sobriety tests. A couple of them might be a walk and turn, the one-legged stand, the alphabet, or the finger count, which most people are familiar with. You do not have to submit to those tests. Most people do because they feel that being cooperative will help them get out of the situation, but you do not. You can respectfully tell the officer that you do not want to submit to those tests, and ask them if you can contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
- In New York state, sobriety test refusal does not mean you are being uncooperative with the police.
Repercussions of Declining Chemical Tests
Now, you have the right to refuse to take any chemical tests in New York. However, such refusal is accompanied by harsh penalties. Because chemical tests are very important for the prosecution’s DWI case against you, refusing to take the tests results in an immediate 1-year suspension of your driver’s license. If you have refused testing or have a previous DWI conviction within the past 5 years, you will lose your driver’s license for 18 months. If you refuse testing and have had 2 prior DWI convictions or 2 refusals within the past 5 years, you can permanently lose your driver’s license. It is imperative to contact an experienced Buffalo DWI Lawyer to handle your sobriety test refusal case.
Typically, the officer must warn you that your driver’s license will be suspended for an entire year if you refuse to take the blood alcohol tests in New York. Further, if you do refuse testing, you will also have to pay fines of approximately $500 ($750 for your second refusal or if you have had a DWI within the past 5 years).
- You will incur further penalties from the DMV if you refuse chemical testing.
The Dreaded DMV Chemical Test Refusal Hearing
When you’re charged with a DWI in Buffalo, you will present yourself to the arraigning court, which is the first time that you are in court. This is when the judge learns of your refusal to submit to a chemical test when asked to do so by law enforcement. You will then be scheduled to appear at a DMV refusal hearing in front of an administrative law judge downtown. This is typically scheduled within 15 days of your arraignment. It is prudent to contact a seasoned attorney who is familiar with these types of hearings. Once you’re there, you’ll be asked to go into a room, similar to a classroom. Afterwards, the judge will swear you in as the defendant, and the police officer who is required to appear to give testimony.
It is important to contact an attorney immediately upon learning of the date because a seasoned attorney will prepare: he will look at your paperwork, talk to witnesses and be prepared when he goes into this hearing. If when you go into this hearing, the officer will try to prove three things: first that you were stopped for potentially driving under the influence of alcohol, second that you were asked to submit to a chemical test, and finally that you refused. If he can prove all three of these things, the chances of you having your license revoked are 99%. Unless of course there are some extenuating circumstances that an attorney can help you with.
- Refusal to submit to a chemical test will require you to appear at a DMV refusal hearing during which your license will be likely be revoked.
Experienced Buffalo Sobriety Test Refusal Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI and has refused to submit to testing, please contact dedicated DWI attorney, John Dudziak for a free consultation and to protect your driving privileges. He has handled countless sobriety test refusal cases with great results.