Indiana’s Implied Consent Law & What Happens If I Refuse Breathalyzer in a DUI Stop?

A common misconception we hear from clients is that they believed they weren’t legally required to submit to an officer’s tests while being investigated for driving under the influence. While refusing to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests doesn’t automatically result in penalty, refusing to submit to a certified chemical test after a law enforcement officer reads the Indiana Implied Consent Warning carries substantial consequences. This is primarily because, as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana, all motorists impliedly consent to chemical tests if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to suspect that person is driving under the influence. A chemical test analyzes a person’s blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substance to determine the presence of alcohol, a drug, or a controlled substance.

In 2016, the Indiana Supreme Court determined that “a refusal to submit to a chemical test occurs when the conduct of the motorist is such that a reasonable person in the officer’s position would be justified in believing the motorist was capable of refusal and manifested an unwillingness to submit to the test.” Thus, your non-compliant actions may constitute a refusal despite never verbally saying, “no.”

 Once you have refused to submit to the chemical test, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year as a first-time DUI offender. If you have a prior conviction for operating a vehicle while under the influence, your license will be suspended for two years. Further, your refusal may be used as evidence against you, along with the other tests and observations made by the arresting officer, and thus, does not actually strengthen your defense.

Prior to July 1, 2020, if a person’s license was suspended for refusing a chemical test, that person was ineligible for specialized driving privileges – a means of allowing Indiana residents to drive for specific purposes approved by the court while their driver’s license is suspended. However, as of July 1, 2020, and as an alternative to any suspension of driving privileges for refusing a chemical test, courts may now issue an order recommending the person be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped with a functioning certified ignition interlock device. This device is essentially a breathalyzer installed in the vehicle that requires the driver to blow into it prior to operating. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle will be immobilized for a period.

For this specialized driving privileges exception to be granted, an attorney will need to petition the court on your behalf. Obtaining this relief after refusing to submit to a chemical test is just one of several issues that an accomplished DUI attorney can help you navigate if you have been charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated. At Banks and Brower, LLC, we have had success attaining early termination of license suspensions for clients who have refused chemical tests and know how to effectively analyze a DUI case with a chemical test refusal.

If you, or somebody you know, has been charged with OVWI, contact the experienced attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC. You may reach us for assistance 24 hours a day, every day, by calling us at (317) 526-4630 or by emailing info@banksbrower.com.