All drivers who take their vehicles on roads in Michigan give implied consent for chemical testing to be conducted to determine if the driver is illegally impaired behind the wheel. The website for the Secretary of State explains the implied consent law, as well as the consequences for refusing chemical testing. If you unreasonably refuse a test, you will get six points added to your driving record. You will also face a one-year license suspension. The consequences of refusal to submit to a test are separate from any criminal actions or other legal proceedings which follow the traffic stop. A second refusal within a period of seven years can also result in six points on your license as well as a license suspension, but this time the license suspension is two years.
A refusal to submit to a chemical test can also be used by a prosecutor as evidence in a subsequent criminal case for operating while intoxicating. You will need to establish an effective OWI defense if you wish to stay out of jail, keep your license, and avoid the other consequences which can follow a conviction for operating while impaired.
Creating an OWI Defense After a Refusal to Take a Chemical Test
If you want to challenge the automatic license suspicion which results from refusal to take a chemical test, you can appeal to the Administrative Hearings Section. You only have 14 days from the date of the arrest to appeal the suspension of your license. You are allowed to bring an OWI defense attorney to the hearing. It is a good idea to have a lawyer with you at the hearing so you can be prepared to make an argument about why you should not lose your license to drive.
Your lawyer can help you to make arguments like claiming the officer stopped your vehicle improperly without probable cause or claiming the officer asked you to submit to a chemical testing even though there was no reasonable suspicion of impairment. If any of your Fourth Amendment rights were violated by an improper or an illegal search, you shouldn't lose your license for reasonable refusal to take a chemical test under such circumstances.
You are also going to have to address the refusal to take the chemical test when you deal with any criminal case arising from a charge of operating while intoxicated. If you go to court and plead not guilty to OWI charges, the prosecutor can introduce evidence of the refusal to help convince a jury you were too impaired to be behind the wheel.
The Illinois State Bar Association recently published an article on defending yourself in cases where you are charged with impaired driving after refusing a chemical test. Tips include preparing testimony if you plan to take the stand on your own behalf, as well as incorporating an explanation for your refusal to take the test in an opening argument. Because it requires effective legal strategies to develop a strong defense, it is a good idea to have an OWI defense attorney present your case.