When applying for a driver's license in your respective state, you may or may not be aware of the documents you sign, which corroborate your acceptance of the state's DUI implied consent laws. Currently according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2008, all states enforce some form of implied consent policies that mandate drivers submit themselves to chemical testing following being pulled over for suspicion of DUI as part of their privilege to drive in that state. Chemical tests can be defined in these states as Breathalyzer tests, withdraw of blood samples, or urine analysis. In the event a driver does not submit to a chemical test at the scene of a DUI stop, criminal or administrative penalties will be immediately assessed according to each state's unique policy, regardless of whether the driver is found guilty of driving under the influence.
For someone facing a DUI implied consent question, keep in mind that the legal consequences for refusing a chemical test depend on the state where the arrest occurs and not dependent on the policies of the state issuing your license. In addition, the decision to administer a chemical test is completely at the discretion of the officer who pulled you over in the first place. Their decision to administer further investigation after pulling you over for a moving violation or traffic stop is dependent on their observations of "suspicion of DUI" that can truly be based on anything. By being informed of your legal rights in every state that you actively travel, facing the decision whether or not to submit to a chemical test during a DUI stop can be made as logically as possible.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are currently fifteen states that criminally punish drivers refusing a chemical test. Also, sixteen states, include a refusal to submit DUI implied consent agreements as a separate criminal charge.
The states that criminally punish violations of DUI implied consent agreements include:
The criminal penalties for refusing a chemical test on the suspicion of DUI widely vary from state to state; however, these criminal charges can include sentences such as jail terms, fines up to $10,000, and mandatory drug and alcohol rehabilitation amongst others. Additionally, a refusal to submit to a DUI implied consent chemical test is always acceptable evidence in all fifty states, which can be used against individuals in a related criminal trial for driving under the influence.
Considering that the government estimates that 1.4 million drivers are killed annually from driving under the influence, the government backlash against persons uncooperative in DUI deterrence efforts is swift and high. In fact, 41 states have policies that allow the immediate start of administrative punishments against drivers for refusing a chemical test, which include often times, one's license and vehicle being confiscated at the scene of the traffic stop. Additionally, a refusal to submit to a chemical test is probable cause enough in most instances for an officer of the law to arrest a person under suspicion of driving under the influence regardless of any chemical test. For state issuing only administrative punishments after holding a DUI administrative hearing, for refusal to submit to DUI implied consent testing, the punishments can include skyrocketed insurance premiums, revocation or suspension of driving privileges, impounding of personal vehicle, and restrictions on other seemingly unrelated state regulated rights such as child custody and divorce proceedings.
A 2005 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted the large number of DUI chemical test refusals occurring in states in spite of criminal and administrative consequences to drivers. Many times, these drivers were aware of the need for prosecutors at a criminal DUI trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that drivers were indeed under the influence. With no quantifiable, scientifically backed evidence, the preponderance of drivers arrested for driving under the influence are found not guilty by a jury of their peers. A criminal DUI lawyer is the only person best suited to plan your individual driving under the influence case, and in doing so, can offer valuable insight as to the potential consequences for refusal to submit to chemical tests, but also, of a potential DUI conviction as well.
In addition to preparing a legal strategy in the event of a trial, DUI attorneys understand the possibility that counter legal action can occur in the event one is found not guilty of driving under their influence, and in turn, that their rights to unnecessary search and seizure were violated during or while being arrested for refusing chemical tests. In some cases, the litigation process ends in a complete dismissal of a case on these grounds even before a trial when done by the right DUI attorney in your area.