Consequences For Refusal of Chemical Test in Indiana

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Posted in On December 25, 2016

Arrests for drunk driving (AKA operating a vehicle while intoxicated or driving under influence) is one of the most common arrests in Indiana.  According to the most recent statistics from MADD, Indiana had over 14,000 drunk driving arrests in 2014.  In order to combat drunk driving, police actively patrol for drunk drivers every day.
Once a police officer has stopped a suspected drunk driver they will do a number of field sobriety tests to determine if someone is intoxicated or not.  These field sobriety tests have been standardized by the National Highway Safety Administration.  Once an officer has developed probable cause to believe that they have a drunk driver they will read what is known as the Indiana implied consent warning.

Why You Typically Shouldn’t Refuse a Chemical Test

In Indiana, as in most states, it is implied that you will consent to a certified breath test if there is probably cause to suspect you are driving intoxicated.  The Indiana implied consent as read by an officer states, “I have probable cause to believe that you have operated a vehicle while intoxicated.  I must now offer you the opportunity to submit to a chemical test, and inform you that your refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for one year.  If you have at least one previous conviction for operating while intoxicated, your refusal to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for two year.  Will you now take a chemical test?”  Many times if the person refuses the test the officer will remind them of the license suspension and ask them again.

The license suspension for refusing a chemical test is one year for a first offender or two years if you have prior offenses.  This can cause a significant hardship on a person as you cannot qualify for a specialized driving license(AKA hardship or work license) when you are suspended for a refusal.  The penalty for a dui suspension is many times shorter and can usually include the allowance to drive for work.  Refusal suspension can be terminated early if it is “in society’s best interest,” however, more and more courts are starting to refuse to terminate refusal suspensions.  Therefore, this significant inconvenience of not being able to drive for a period of 1 or 2 years is reason enough alone for most people to want to avoid a refusal. Second, just because you refuse the breath test doesn’t mean you are going to beat the drunk driving charges.  If an officer has conducted the field sobriety tests appropriately, many times he can use the results of those tests as well as any other observations made, including driving behavior, odor of alcohol, dexterity issues, and balance issues.

Lastly, and most importantly, refusing a breath test won’t get you far in most jurisdictions because they will just turn around and get a warrant to draw your blood and use the blood test to acquire your BAC.  In more and more counties in Indiana, when a suspect refuses a breath test, the police will right up a search warrant request and get judicial approval to draw your blood without your consent.  Now, they have your BAC and you still have your refusal license suspension.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving or are facing issues with a refusal license suspension call an experienced Indianapolis DUI Attorney at Banks & Brower, 24 hours a day at 317-870-0019 so we can help you.