Must you submit to a breath test in Massachusetts?

| May 1, 2018 | Criminal Defense

Operating while under the influence is a serious offense in Massachusetts. A first offense for an OUI, even one that does not result in any injuries or property damage, can still result in a suspension of your driver’s license and jail time up to two-and-a-half years.

It does not take many alcoholic drinks to go over the legal limit. Depending on your weight and metabolism, it may only take two drinks to blow a 0.08 percent on a breath testing device. This begs the question, “Do you absolutely have to consent to a breath test if a police officer pulls you over?” An officer cannot force you to take a breath test, but you should weigh the pros and cons of such a decision and how it could impact a potential future court case.

Massachusetts has implied consent laws

Many states have implied consent laws when it comes to operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. If an officer arrests you on suspicion of drunk driving, then you inherently imply an agreement to testing. Naturally, you can refuse, but this will come with penalties. An officer can automatically suspend your license for 180 days.

This law is also in effect if an officer wants to take you to a center for a blood test. You can refuse a blood test, but again, this comes with penalties. Individuals who take anticoagulants or are diabetics can refuse the test without any punishments.

Criminal prosecution cannot use a refusal against you

Some drivers worry that refusing can come up in court by the prosecution. They worry that a denial will look guilty, but in actuality, the prosecutor cannot use it as evidence you were under the influence.

There is also the case of someone being unable to provide a sufficient amount of breath for the device to work. In this instance, the officer could not suspend the license because the person consented. The reading not working is another issue entirely.