As an experienced Michigan DUI defense law firm, people come to us seeking all kinds of legal advice. One of the questions our criminal defense attorneys hear most often is -
"Do I have to take a breathalyzer if I'm pulled over in Michigan?"
The answer to this question is a more complicated question than it might appear. The quick answer? Yes, there are situations in which Michigan law requires you to take a BAC test. However, many people choose to disobey this particular law(s) and accept the penalties. Let us explain.
Implied Consent And BAC Tests
You are required by Michigan's law, mostly "Implied Consent," to take a breathalyzer or similar test when a police officer gives a legal order. BAC tests include:
- Preliminary breathalyzer test (PBT)
- In-station Datamaster breath test
- Blood analysis
Many people are surprised to learn that field sobriety tests are voluntary and you can decline to take them. These include things like walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. It's best to be polite when declining a test.
You should also know that if you refuse a preliminary breath test it's only a civil infraction. A typical PBT is a roadside breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take an on-the-spot breathalyzer you can be fined up to $150 plus court costs.
Penalties For Refusing A Chemical Test
After declining a PBT, under the Implied Consent law, an officer may ask you to complete a chemical test. This could involve taking you to the police station for an on-site breathalyzer or to the hospital for a blood draw.
Many states have a version of "implied consent" on the books. In general, the law says that by getting a driver's license, you agree to submit to BAC testing. As a result, if you have a driver's license, you have already agreed to take the test.
In Michigan, if you refuse to take a chemical test at a facility like a police station or hospital, the Implied Consent penalties will almost certainly kick in - and they are significant.
In general, if you refuse to take the test this time, your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year and 6 points will be added to your driving record.
Choosing The Smaller Penalty
One of the top reasons people give for declining an Implied Consent BAC test, is that they'd rather take the penalty than hand over potentially damning evidence to the police.
Consequences of a first-offense Michigan DUI conviction can include months in jail, vehicle immobilization, hundreds of hours of community service, and fines. Similar charges have similar penalties. Penalties are greater for High Blood Alcohol Content (HBAC), which is a BAC of 0.17 or higher (0.08 is the legal limit).
You can appeal an Implied Consent license suspension. Typically, you have 14 days from the date of your refusal or arrest to mail in a license-suspension appeal to the Administrative Hearings Section.
The freedom to drive is critical to many people and families. We need to drive to get to work, school, doctor's appointments, grocery stores, child care, etc. Taking Ubers, taxis and public transportation can quickly get expensive and exhausting. With so much at stake, people often hire an experienced DUI defense attorney to handle their appeal.
Do I Have To Take A BAC Test?
While you can refuse to take a BAC test, police do have a way to force you to submit. If you refuse a breath and blood test an officer can get a court order to make you take a blood BAC test either at a police station, jail, medical facility, or similar professional setting. Once results are available, if you are found to be above the legal limit, you may not be eligible to apply for a restricted driver's license.
BAC Refusal And DUI Help
At Manley & Manley we understand the weaknesses of BAC testing and use that knowledge to tear down flimsy "evidence."
Mistakes can easily happen involving breath and blood tests. Police might conduct the test wrong. Evidence can be mishandled, misinterpreted, contaminated, or otherwise made unreliable. Every day, it seems there are more reasons why BAC test results turn out to be inaccurate.
In many districts, however, prosecutors and juries still think BAC tests are the most important and trustworthy factors in determining DUI guilt or innocence. Our law firm breaks down those misconceptions.
If you are facing DUI charges, or expect they are coming, or if you are seeking an appeal, contact Manley & Manley for a free case consultation. A member of our legal team can explain how the law applies to your case, the penalties you're facing, and your legal options. Manley & Manley is based in Flint and serves all of Michigan. Contact us now to schedule an appointment with us.