Penalties for refusing a breath test in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2021 | Blog

All states enforce strict laws to combat drunk driving, though the penalties vary. The police may conduct several tests to check for impairment. The most common test is a breath test, but drivers in Boston and throughout Massachusetts have been known to refuse it. Those who do commonly face several stiff penalties.

Breathalyzers and implied consent

Breathalyzers check for impairment by measuring BAC, or blood alcohol content, using a breath sample. The highest allowable BAC in most states is .08, and drivers can get charged even if they register below that and for legal or illegal drugs. Massachusetts has a Zero Tolerance Law and sets the BAC at .02 for minors under 21.

When drivers get a license in Massachusetts, they give implied consent to chemical testing. States enact these laws to make drivers more cooperative in submitting to these tests. However, a driver’s refusal to take chemical tests cannot be used in court, and the officer still needs physical proof of OUI.

Penalties for refusing breath tests

When a driver over 21 refuses the breath test, an officer may enact administrative penalties and immediately suspend a permit or license. The penalty for a first-time refusal carries a 180-day to a one-year suspension, a court-ordered alcohol education program, and a 12-hour impound. The driver may face a two-year license suspension upon a second refusal.

A driver charged with bodily injury loses their license for 10 years after reusing the breath test. Drivers who refuse the test after a vehicular homicide charge or refuse after three prior OUIs lose their license for life. Drivers have 15 days after the refusal to contest the charges with a hearing, which determines if the officer had reasonable grounds to charge the defendant.

A drunk driving charge involves many consequences that can last for years, but chemical test results aren’t always accurate. A driver needs an experienced defense attorney to combat the allegations..