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What happens if you refuse to perform a breath test?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2022 | DUI |

There are multiple types of evidence that contribute to the state’s case against you when you face driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Hawaii. Although someone’s behavior at the wheel and their performance on a field sobriety test may contribute to the allegations against them, the results of a chemical breath test are often the final piece of evidence necessary to justify arresting someone and bringing impaired driving charges against them.

Given that breath tests play such an important role in prosecution, many people would prefer to not undergo breath testing if possible. However, Hawaii has a law that makes it a crime to refuse a breath test when a police officer has probable cause to suspect you of intoxication at the wheel. What happens if you refuse a breath test when an officer has reason to request one?

Implied consent violations have licensing penalties

The law that requires that all drivers submit to chemical testing when appropriate is the implied consent law. All drivers give their implied consent to such testing as one of the numerous restrictions on their driver’s license and ability to drive on state roads.

If someone refuses a test during a traffic stop, the officer involved will likely arrest them, and they will face the suspension of their license. If this is the first time an officer asked to perform a chemical test and the driver refused, the penalty will likely be a one-year license suspension. If they refused a test previously in the last five years, the state could suspend their license for two years or for four years if they’ve refused testing twice before.

Refusing a test doesn’t always prevent a DUI

While a police officer may not have a chemical breath test to help build their case against you, they will have your refusal to reference in court. They may also have a video of how you performed on a field sobriety test or statements you made when you interacted with them during the traffic stop to help build their case. Someone who refuses a breath test could very well also end up accused of a DUI offense.

Understanding the rules that limit your freedom when driving in Hawaii can help you better assert your rights and avoid criminal charges related to impaired driving.