Police officers often ask those stopped for traffic enforcement matters or involved in a collision to perform a chemical breath test. Such testing can validate suspicions that someone was under the influence or rule out intoxication as the cause of a wreck.
Those who fail chemical tests will often end up arrested and arraigned for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. Can a driver simply refuse to perform a chemical test as a way of avoiding self-incrimination?
There are penalties for test refusal
If a police officer has probable cause to suspect impairment, they could arrest someone even without a breath test or other chemical test. Technically, Kentucky state law has a provision stating that anyone driving on public roads has already given implied consent to chemical testing.
If an officer has reason to suspect that someone has had too much to drink, it is a violation of the law to refuse to perform the test if you have already been arrested. The police officer requesting the test will often take someone’s license immediately after they refuse to submit to the test. The courts will affirm that move by automatically suspending someone’s license at their arraignment.
The automatic license suspension that follows test refusal will last until at least the resolution of the driver’s impaired driving charges. If someone pleads guilty or gets convicted, the state will double the mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration. They will also become ineligible for a hardship license during their suspension period.
Police officers who pull someone over or who must put together a report about a crash will look at the situation very carefully. Often, they want to prove or at least rule out the possibility of chemical impairment contributing to the situation.
Failing a test does not mean an automatic conviction
People frequently want to avoid chemical testing because they believe, inaccurately, that failing a test will automatically lead to their conviction for a DUI offense. However, there are many reasons that someone might have a false positive on a breast test. It is possible to defend against DUI charges even when there is a chemical test showing that someone was over the legal limit. In many cases, performing a breath test and then fighting against charges later will be the better option than refusing a breath test and facing a possible jail sentence that is twice as long.
Learning more about the rules that apply to Kentucky DUI cases may make a big difference for those who eventually end up pulled over and arrested for intoxication at the wheel. Seeking legal guidance can be beneficial for those already facing these circumstances.