Driving is a privilege in Missouri, just as it is in all the other states. For this reason, when you sign up for a driver’s license, you will be providing implied consent to a couple of things. One of these is the consent to yield to a chemical test if you are lawfully requested to take one.
If the police believe you could be driving while intoxicated, they will pull you over for further investigation. Part of this may involve directing you to take the Breathalyzer test. Basically, this test is meant to determine your blood alcohol (BAC) level.
So can you refuse the Breathalyzer test?
It is important to understand that implied consent is different from actual consent. Thus, you may still decline to take the chemical test if the police direct you to do so. But doing so has consequences. For instance, if you know you are innocent, refusing to yield to the Breathalyzer test demand will automatically forfeit your chance to prove innocence – provided the equipment is functioning well and the test is properly administered.
Possible consequences when you refuse the Breathalyzer test
Under Missouri law, a refusal to take a lawful Breathalyzer test will result in the following:
Revocation of your driver’s license – your driver’s license will be suspended for one year if you refuse to take the Breathalyzer test. Thus, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license immediately and issue you with a Notice of Revocation. This notice will go into effect after 15 days unless the Circuit Court rules otherwise.
Evidentiary use – You won’t get off the hook just because you refused the Breathalyzer test. If you are formally charged, the prosecution can use this as evidence against you in court. Of course, a refusal to take the test does not automatically imply that you were drunk at the time of the arrest. However, the prosecution can argue that your refusal meant that you had something to hide.
Driving while intoxicated is a serious crime with costly legal and personal consequences. Understanding your legal options can help you safeguard your rights if you are charged with DWI in Missouri.