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To breathe or not to breathe -- into a Breathalyzer that is

You've heard about field sobriety tests, right? They are those tests that police officers in California and elsewhere ask drivers to perform if they suspect impaired driving. Some of them require going through a list of physical tasks. However, another test looks at your body's blood alcohol content. This chemical test is the Breathalyzer.

So, you were pulled over for allegedly driving while drunk. The law enforcement officer pulled out a little machine and asked you to provide a breath sample. Did you do it? Did you even know that you had a choice?

What is implied consent?

When you register as a driver in California or elsewhere, you agree to implied consent laws. This means that, if a law enforcement officer suspects that you are driving while intoxicated, you agree to submit to a breath test. Wondering how you can refuse if this is the case? Most people do.

Refusing

While implied consent laws are in place, and for good reason, technically a police officer cannot force you to participate in a breath test. If you decide not to do it, the law enforcement officer must obtain a warrant if he or she decides to pursue the matter.

What's the catch? Well, refusing to submit to sobriety testing typically is not without consequences. Penalties for refusal may include:

  • Revocation or suspension of your license
  • Jail time

Either one of these penalties can take a toll on your life -- personally and professionally -- so they are certainly worth considering before saying no.

What should I do?

This is a very personal question and only one that you can answer for yourself. A lot can happen if you fail to comply, but choosing to participate can certainly have its consequences as well.

At the end of the day, Breathalyzer machines are far from 100 percent accurate. Any number of things can cause them to issue a high blood alcohol content readout. Proving that you received a false positive on your test is not an easy task. Whether you choose to comply or not, you can seek help when dealing with the aftermath of either choice. An experienced criminal defense attorney will fight to protect your rights and do all that is necessary to help you achieve the best outcome possible for your circumstances.

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