Driving under influence (DUI) is a serious offense no matter who you are. If the police have reason to believe that you could be drunk behind the wheel, they will stop you for further investigation. These can include interrogations, field sobriety tests and a chemical test (commonly known as the Breathalyzer test).
One of the decisions you will need to make during a DUI stop is whether you should submit to the Breathalyzer test or not. Of course, you can refuse to take the Breathalyzer test. But is this always a prudent idea?
Alabama is an implied consent state
You will face consequences if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. This is because Alabama, like all the other states, enforces a doctrine known as implied consent. Per this doctrine, you will be giving police implicit consent to a BAC test should they lawfully pull you over for a DUI investigation.
In most cases, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended if you refuse a Breathalyzer test. For a first refusal, your license will be suspended for up to 90 days. Second and subsequent refusals will result in a one-year suspension of your license. Keep in mind, this suspension is independent of any criminal consequences that might arise from your DUI.
The prosecution can use your refusal to bolster their case
You may refuse the Breathalyzer test hoping that doing so will weaken the prosecution’s case against you. However, Alabama laws allow police to admit evidence of Breathalyzer refusal during your trial. In other words, the prosecution can inform the court that you refused a lawful Breathalyzer test request. It will then be up to the court to interpret the implications of your refusal. Most often, the court will interpret your refusal as evidence of guilt.
Building your defense
Getting pulled over by law enforcement can be frightening — especially if they start to ask if you could be intoxicated behind the wheel. If you have been charged with DUI it’s wise to get some experienced legal guidance.