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Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?

The simple answer: You can refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

The better answer: You can refuse, but you shouldn't.

One night a man decides to take a risky drive home after one too many drinks. He believes that he is in control, even if he might be a little over the legal limit. When he gets pulled over by a law enforcement officer he considers refusing to take a breath test. He thinks that by refusing the breath test that he could avoid an OUI. He is in for a big surprise.

You have already given implied consent

The day that you sign up for your driver's license in Maine is the day that you give consent to chemical testing. A driver's license is not a citizen's right; it is considered a privilege in the eyes of the law. Maine has an Under Implied Consent law which means that you automatically agree to a blood, breath or urine test at any time under the demand of an authority.

The authority must have a probable cause when asking you to take a breath test. This means that they cannot randomly pull you over and test you. A police officer has to have some reason to suspect that you are drinking and driving. If they suspect you are drunk driving and you refuse the test, then you might end up having a worse outcome than if you had just taken it.

Penalties for refusing the test can be worse than the OUI charge

The following can, and likely will happen if you refuse to take a breath test by a police officer in Maine:

  • Your driver's license can be revoked for up to six years
  • You could get an OUI conviction anyway
  • You could receive jail time

The reason for this is because no court action is needed to suspend your license if you refuse a chemical test. Also, testimony from the arresting police officer about your driving performance can still end in an OUI whether you took the test or not. Then if you are found guilty of an OUI due to the officer's testimony, your refusal of the breathalyzer test will be considered an aggravating factor. This means that a judge can add on another suspension and mandatory jail time.

The best thing to do if you are pulled over for suspected drinking and driving is to comply with the officer's requests. Do not admit fault, but take the test. If they want to question you or if you are arrested then call an attorney right away. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you get the best outcome from these difficult circumstances.

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