What Will Happen If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test After a DWI Stop?

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Rochester, New York, you may know that it is often in your best interest to agree to submit to a breathalyzer test, or to another chemical test designed to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Under New York law, as in most other states, it is unlawful to drive with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. If you are stopped for drunk driving and have a BAC of 0.08 percent or more, it does not matter if your driving did not show any signs of impairment. Your BAC alone can allow a law enforcement official to arrest you for a DWI/DUI in the state.

Yet some drivers think that it might make sense to refuse a breathalyzer test in order to be cited as having a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. While refusing a breathalyzer test can actually benefit you under some circumstances, we want to emphasize that there are serious consequences of refusing a breathalyzer test or other chemical test in New York. That being said, let’s explore more information about New York’s implied consent law, and what will happen if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test.

New York Has an Implied Consent Law

New York State, like many other states in the country, has what is known as an “implied consent” law. This means that, anytime you get behind the wheel of your car and drive on roads in or around Rochester or elsewhere in New York, you give implied consent to have your breath tested for your blood alcohol concentration. Accordingly, it is unlawful in New York to refuse a breathalyzer test when you are stopped for a DWI. For most people, it does not make sense to refuse a breathalyzer test—the consequences of refusal are more serious than dealing with the possibility of a first-time DWI offense with the help of a New York drunk driving defense lawyer.

However, you can refuse a breathalyzer test, but you should know that there will be serious consequences.

Penalties for Refusing a Breathalyzer Test

If you are stopped for drunk driving and refuse a breathalyzer test, you should know what the penalties are that you will be facing. For a first refusal—meaning that you have never refused a breathalyzer in the past after being stopped for a DWI and have no DWI convictions on your record—you will face, at a minimum, a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. You will not be able to have your license reinstated within that one-year period even if you did not have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. In the event of a second refusal or a first refusal after being convicted of a DWI within the last five years, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 18 months and you will not be able to have it reinstated.

In first-time refusals and subsequent refusals, you will also face significant fines. A first refusal will result in a fine of $500, and a subsequent refusal will result in a fine of $750. If you refuse a breathalyzer test and you have a recent history of two DWI convictions, two refusals, or one of each, your driver’s license can be revoked permanently and you will not be able to drive ever again in New York. 

Preparing for a Refusal Hearing

If you refused a breathalyzer test, you will need to prepare for a “refusal hearing.” With help from a New York DWI defense lawyer, you will be able to present a defense for the DWI stop in order to prove that you should not face the consequences for a refusal. Refusal hearings can be anxiety-inducing and complex, and it is essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

Contact a Rochester DWI Defense Lawyer As Soon As Possible

If you are facing DWI charges in Rochester, or if you recently refused a breathalyzer test in upstate New York, it is extremely important to have an experienced Rochester DWI defense attorney on your side to help develop a defense strategy and to prepare for your case. If you are convicted of drunk driving in New York State, you can face serious consequences that can include a criminal record and jail time. 

One of the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at our firm can assess the facts of your case today and can begin working on a defense to help you beat these charges. Ultimately, even if you cannot have the charges dropped, it may be possible to have the charges reduced with the help of a member of our legal team. Contact King Law today to learn more about the traffic and DWI defense services we provide in the Rochester area.


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