What happens when you refuse to take a chemical breath test?

| Jun 21, 2021 | DWI/DUI

You could have many different reasons to want to refuse a chemical breath test when a police officer asks you to take one. Maybe you had one beer earlier. Maybe you heard that the kind of asthma inhaler you use can affect the breath test. Perhaps you worry about how inaccurate you have heard these tests are, and you don’t want to wind up accused of a crime that you know you didn’t commit.

When an officer suspects you of drunk driving after talking to you during a traffic stop or performing a field sobriety test, they may ask you to perform a chemical breath test. After you perform the pest, the results may mean that the officer arrests you. What happens if you don’t agree to take the test?

State law requires that drivers undergo testing if there is probable cause

Sometimes, you have to explicitly and specifically give your permission for something. Other times, you give implied consent. Louisiana state laws state that everyone driving on public roads has given implied consent to chemical testing.

The aim of this law is to protect the public from the dangers of chemical impairment at the wheel. The effect is that those who refuse chemical testing during a traffic stop could wind up arrested and dealing with consequences because they violated the implied consent law. 

How does the state penalize a breath test refusal?

If you refuse a chemical breath test for the first time during a traffic stop, Louisiana will suspend your license for a year. If you refuse a test again in the next 10 years after the first time, you will face a suspension that lasts for two years.

You may also still wind up charged with an impaired driving offense even if you refuse a chemical breath test. In fact, prosecutors in Louisiana have the right to use your chemical test refusal as evidence against you in a drunk driving case.

Understanding the consequences of refusing a chemical breath test and that you can still possibly challenge test results can help you make better decisions during a traffic stop and after your arrest.