Refusing The Breath Test
What Happens If I Refuse A Breath Test Or Field Sobriety Test In Indiana?
At the law offices of
Arnold Terrill, P.C., in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we represent individuals who are facing a threat
to their freedom and driving privileges due to an accusation of operating
while intoxicated (OWI) charge in counties throughout northeastern Indiana. During a typical
week, we receive many phone calls for people who have questions about
the charges they or their loved ones face.
This page lists questions and broad overview questions about refusing a
Breathalyzer or other type of test administered by the police to determine
a blood alcohol content (BAC) level. This information cannot be viewed
as a substitute for a consultation with an attorney.
For answers to your specific questions about OWI defense, call us at 888-912-7220.
How does the state of Indiana define intoxicated?
Pursuant to Indiana law, an "intoxicated" person is one who is
under the influence of: (1) alcohol; (2) a controlled substance (I.C.
35-48-1); (3) a drug other than alcohol or a controlled substance; or
(4) a combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs; so that
there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal
control of a person's faculties (I.C. 9-13-2-86).
What happens if I refuse to take a certified breath test?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by people concerned with
drunk driving laws. When a police officer has probable cause to believe
that a motorist was operating a vehicle while intoxicated, he or she must
offer you a chemical test for intoxication. (I.C. 9-30-6-2). If the driver
refuses to take a properly offered test, the driver's license WILL
be suspended for one year (I.C. 9-30-6-9(A)) and it could be longer based
on a driver's history.
What if I refused to take the test because I knew I wasn't drunk?
The driver will also be arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated
(OWI). Therefore, in deciding whether or not to take a certified test,
which can include blood, breath or urine, a motorist should consider whether
or not he or she can afford to be suspended from driving for one (1) year.
Further, motorists should know that if they then get convicted for operating
while intoxicated after having refused a test, the court will order ANOTHER
license suspension that would be in addition to the one (1) year administrative
Will I automatically face a one-year suspended license?
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will suspend any driver's license
for one (1) year if he or she refuses to submit to a certified breath
test. If a person has a prior conviction for a related offense, a refusal
can result in a two year license suspension. There are occasions, in some
jurisdictions, where an attorney with experience in this area of the law
might be able to negotiate a reduced license suspension time period.
But am I not innocent until proven guilty?
The answer is yes — for the criminal charges — but the BMV
is an administrative agency and not a court or judicial body. Under Indiana
law, driving is a privilege and not a fundamental right. We all consent
to these concepts upon becoming a licensed driver in Indiana. Consequently,
the BMV can and will suspend your license once it receives notice from
the court that you refused to submit to a certified breath test.
What if I refuse a warrant to take a breath, blood or urine test?
In some Indiana counties, including Allen County, the court may hold you
in contempt of court for refusing a warrant for a chemical breath, blood
or urine test and could put you in jail for such contempt. That penalty
is in addition to any outcome you may receive for the OWI charge itself. The
Fort Wayne criminal defense lawyers at Arnold Terrill, P.C., expect more jurisdictions to adopt this
approach. Thus, refusing to take a test now assumes an even greater amount of risk.
Shouldn't I just plead guilty and get it over with?
The issues discussed in this section are just a few examples regarding
why NO ONE should plead guilty to any criminal charge without first discussing
the possible penalties with an attorney trained in that particular area
of law. The attorneys at
Arnold Terrill, P.C. are interested in discussing any questions or concerns you might have
pertaining to certified breath tests, license suspensions or any other
topics of interest to you.
Please feel free to
contact us at 888-912-7220.