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Implied consent law in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | Criminal Law

When a police officer in Massachusetts pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), you are subject to the state’s implied consent law. This means that you agree to submit to a breathalyzer test by having a driver’s license if the officer believes you have been drinking and driving.

Understanding how implied consent works in Massachusetts

Massachusetts uses implied consent law to give law enforcement agencies access to evidence of impairment related to operating a vehicle under the influence. The law states that if a police officer has reasonable cause to believe you are inebriated, you must submit to chemical testing because by driving on public roads, you have consented to abide by the state’s regulations.

Refusal consequences

You can refuse to take a breathalyzer when stopped by a police officer in Massachusetts, but doing so has some immediate repercussions. For starters, the state will revoke your license for 180 days, and you may face criminal charges if law enforcement finds enough evidence against you. Police officers can also use the refusal as evidence of impairment in court.

Moreover, if in the future you get arrested again for drunk driving and refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the state will suspend your license for three years or five for a third offense. And, if you refuse to take the test after a car accident involving bodily injury, the court will suspend your license for ten years.

When to consider a refusal

A DUI conviction has severe penalties that can affect your life for more than a decade. Therefore, the absence of chemical testing evidence may be favorable in court when challenging a DUI charge. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of other ways to establish impairment that do not involve chemical testing, such as your inability to perform field sobriety tests or an officer’s observation of the smell of alcohol on your breath.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what is best in your case. But, if a police officer in Massachusetts stops you, keep in mind that the implied consent law applies. Refusing the test can have profound consequences, and most people only consider it if the 180-day license suspension is better than the alternative outcome.