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Is it okay to refuse a breathalyzer test?

When it comes to DUIs, what you do not know could cost you your freedom. It is not necessary to have an extensive history of drunk driving offenses or a criminal record. Anyone who drives can benefit from learning their rights and how they apply to field sobriety testing and implied consent laws in Oklahoma as well as across the country. One question you may have is, “Do I have to take a breathalyzer test or provide chemical samples to law enforcement?”

The short answer is that you can decline field sobriety testing because Oklahoma is an implied consent state. Refusing field sobriety testing can lead to stiffer consequences besides DUI charges. There are, however, circumstances where it may be more beneficial for alleged offenders to take their chances and agree to testing. Here is a brief overview of the penalties for declining field sobriety testing:

Initial refusal

By law, every individual who has a valid driver’s license should provide samples for impairment testing when asked by the police during DUI traffic stops, but not everyone honors it. Refusal is not an automatic jail sentence. First-time rejections are subject to a 180-day suspension of driving privileges and the use of an ignition interlock on the person's vehicle for 18 months.

Secondary refusals

Law enforcement keeps track of when motorists decline field sobriety testing. Secondary refusals come with a longer suspension period for driving privileges. If during a separate incident a driver says no to testing and has a prior denial or DWI conviction on record from within the previous ten years, the penalties include a 365-day driver’s license suspension sentence, possible jail time and the use of an interlock ignition device for four years.

Subsequent refusals

The penalties for two or more previous refusals within 10 years include a three-year revocation of legal driving privileges and the use of an interlock ignition device for up to five years. Every situation is different, and there may be additional penalties besides jail time, license suspension and fines.

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test or comply with the officer’s instructions for roadside or field sobriety testing does not prevent DUI charges. Police officers can and do arrest as well as charge alleged offenders they believe dangerous to the public, and themselves, even if alleged offenders do not submit to field sobriety testing with a DUI.

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