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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 license suspension.

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.

Reasons to Work With Arnold Terrill, P.C.

  • Over 45 Years of Combined Legal Experience
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