As an Ohio citizen, it is important to know what rights you have and when to exercise them. However, you should understand that certain rights have a number of associated risks that could land you into more trouble if the surrounding circumstances are not in your favor.
One right that is often questioned is the right to refuse a breathalyzer test if a police officer pulls you over and suspects you of driving under the influence (DUI). While you do have the right to do so, you risk making the potential conviction even worse for yourself. Before you refuse the officer’s request, it is important to understand the potential outcomes that could happen from this decision.
A harsher conviction
Due to Ohio’s laws on implied consent, the police can still arrest you and suspend your license if you refuse a breathalyzer test. The length of the suspension on your license depends on if this is your first offense or not. Your license receives a 1-year suspension in your first offense for operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI). The length can go up to 5 years depending on the amount of previous offenses you have within the last 6 years.
The suspension lengths are less than what you would receive if you took the chemical test. If you agree to it, your first offense would only result in a 90-day suspension in Ohio. In addition, prosecutors could use your refusal against you to convince the court of your guilt. Your refusal could make it look like that you knew that you were driving while drunk and did not want to give the officer immediate evidence. Refusing a test does not mean the court cannot find you guilty of OVI and penalize you with jail time and fines.
Defending your right
With so many risks, why do so many people in Ohio refuse the breathalyzer test? Most do so because they do not want to give the court potential evidence. While the prosecution can still use the refusal for their argument, it may not hold much weight if there is not much additional evidence proving your guilt.
There is also the chance that you could have less of a license suspension. Within 30 days of your first court appearance, you and your attorney can potentially appeal your administrative license suspension (ALS) by proving that the officer did not have reasonable ground for the arrest, request for breathalyzer use in the first place, or warn you about the consequences of refusing. While the court may not revoke the suspension right away, they can still significantly shorten it and allow you to go back on the road with your vehicle much sooner than before.
Whether you choose to take or refuse the breathalyzer test, it is important to seek the right defense lawyer to minimize or erase any potential charges you face that could negatively impact your life.