What are the consequences for an UI test refusal?

| Aug 8, 2019 | OUI And Driving Privileges

A breathalyzer test may have a devastating effect in an OUI prosecution in Massachusetts. The motorist’s rights and dealing with a request to undergo these tests may play a role with a prosecution for OUI and driving privileges.

Failure to pass this test may be conclusive. The Commonwealth can prove that the defendant operated under the influence if they have a blood alcohol level of at least 0.08 percent.

A motorist may explicitly refuse these tests or constructively refuse them by being uncooperative. Refusal may not be expressly or indirectly used at trial. For example, police testimony may not be introduced that the defendant was informed of the right to a breathalyzer test without mentioning the refusal.

Motorists have the right to be warned of the consequences of their refusal to undergo a breathalyzer test. However, they do not possess the right of being informed of the consequences of their failure to pass this test. They do not have the right to consult an attorney when deciding to accede to the request for a breathalyzer.

But, they have the right to have telephone access or to have a qualified interpreter if they are hearing impaired. The test results may be suppressed, or the case dismissed if these rights are denied and denial had an effect on the decision on refusing a breathalyzer test or affected their performance.

Although drivers may refuse to undergo a breathalyzer test, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for 180 days for their first offense. The suspension is three years for a second offense, five years for the third offense and a lifetime for any subsequent offenses.

Upon refusal, the police or court may immediately commence the suspension. They can seize the license and issue a written notice of intent to suspend.

If the driver is acquitted after their criminal trial, they may seek the reinstatement of their driver’s license. If a driver is convicted, the suspension for the conviction begins on an after the refusal suspension. The length of the suspension is based on earlier convictions and not on whether the motorist submitted to a test in other cases.