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Can you decline to take a breath test?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In Arkansas, like many other states, law enforcement officers have a right to conduct breath tests to determine a person’s blood alcohol content. These tests typically occur after the officer conducts a field sobriety test on the scene.

If you have ever wondered whether you can say no to such a test during a traffic stop and what consequences you might face, you should understand the rules regarding breath test refusals.

Defining implied consent

The first thing to understand is the implied consent law. This legal principle means that, by obtaining your driver’s license and driving a vehicle, you agree to take a chemical test if a law enforcement officer asks you to. Chemical tests include breath, blood and urine testing for the presence of alcohol or narcotics.

Refusing a breath test

You do have the right to refuse a breath test in Arkansas. However, this decision carries its own set of consequences. You risk an automatic driver’s license suspension by refusing the breath test. The duration of the suspension can vary based on your prior DUI-related convictions.

The prosecution can use your refusal as evidence against you in court. They can present your refusal as an indicator of guilt or wrongdoing. This can make your defense more challenging.

Facing other testing

Refusing a breath test does not necessarily mean you avoid testing altogether. Law enforcement officers may seek a search warrant to obtain a blood sample if they have probable cause, such as if you failed the field sobriety test. This could lead to additional legal complications, including additional license suspensions and costly fines.

The state of Arkansas reported over 6,000 arrests for driving under the influence in 2019. Protecting yourself from charges starts with understanding what happens if you refuse a breath test. Know your rights in the event of a traffic stop for your safety.