Understanding Your Rights – What if You Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer in MA
Operating under the influence (OUI) is a serious charge that can amount to license revocation, hefty fines, or even jail time. When getting pulled over under suspicion of OUI, a law enforcement officer may attempt to administer a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test. Both of these practices are designed to determine whether you are operating under the influence of a drug or over the legal alcohol limit, and additionally give the prosecution strong evidence against you. It is imperative that you know your right to refuse a breathalyzer test and the consequences that come along with it.Effect of Failing Breathalyzer Test
In Massachusetts, the maximum BAC is 0.08% for drivers over the age of 21 and 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21. If you take a breathalyzer test and the result shows that your BAC is over the legal limit your license will be immediately suspended. At trial, evidence that your BAC exceeded 0.08% is all the prosecution needs to secure a conviction for OUI. Below we have listed the suspension lengths for failing a breathalyzer test. Note that these suspensions are before you are found guilty or not guilty of the charge. Additional suspension upon a guilty verdict may be applicable.
- If you are 21 or over, upon registering over the legal alcohol limit of 0.08% your license will be suspended for 30 days.
- If you are between 18 and 21, upon registering over the legal alcohol limit of 0.02% your license will be suspended for 30 days plus 180 days. The RMV may choose to waive the 180 period under certain circumstances.
- If you are under 18, upon registering over the legal alcohol limit of 0.02% your license will be suspended for a year. This may be reduced to 180 days under certain circumstances.
There are advantages and disadvantages of refusing a breathalyzer test. The prosecution may not bring forth evidence that you refused the test at trial, which may help bolster your case. However, your license will be automatically suspended, and your car will be impounded at your expense. Below is a list of penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test.
- If you are 21 or over, your license will be suspended for 180 days if you have no prior OUI convictions. Suspensions can be extended to three years, five years, or life depending on prior OUI convictions.
- If you are between 18 and 21, suspensions range from 3 years to life.
- If you are under 18, suspensions range from 3 years to life.
You can also appeal a breathalyzer test refusal within 15 days. Our attorneys can help you navigate this process.Further Possible Suspension
The outcome of the case at trial is what determines if there will be a separate additional suspension. If you are found guilty there will be another suspension. If you are found not guilty, your attorney will argue for your license to be reinstated.
- If you are over 21, suspensions for a guilty verdict can range from anywhere between one year to life depending on prior OUI convictions. This is often reduced to 45-90 days for a first offense.
- If you are under 21, suspensions for a guilty verdict can range from anywhere from 210 days to life depending on prior OUI convictions.
Note that all of these charges can be mitigated in certain instances through enrollment into a probation agreement. Some of these may also result in a fine or a criminal case and jail time depending upon the severity of any car accident and prior charges. Those under the age of 21 will also likely be required to enroll in a youth alcohol program.
Whatever your age or prior confrontations with law enforcement, you deserve to know your rights. Our experienced team of OUI attorneys are ready to guide you through every step of the OUI process. To schedule your free consultation with Altman & Altman LLP, call 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 (toll free), or contact us online. We are available 24/7.