Most people already understand that a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in New York could be a major issue. After all, depending on your record, the DUI could mean jail time, major fines and the loss of your license. Some people could also lose their jobs due to a serious criminal conviction.
If you get pulled over by law enforcement or caught up in a roadblock enforcement effort, you may worry about the consequences of the traffic stop. It might seem like a good idea to refuse a chemical test if the officer who speaks with you requests one. This is particularly true if the officer has already performed a field sobriety test and you didn't do well.
You may think that refusing the test could protect you from criminal charges, but that is not the case. Instead, refusing a chemical test could work against you in court and result in additional penalties.
Refusing a chemical test is a separate violation of the law
New York has specific laws in place that mandate that anyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads must agree to chemical testing if law enforcement has probable cause to request a test. This law, called the implied consent law, means that anyone driving has already given consent to potential chemical testing.
Typically, a failed roadside sobriety test would be sufficient grounds for requesting a chemical test. You have the right to refuse the test, but there are criminal and civil consequences for doing so.
If you will not submit to a chemical test after an arrest, you will face automatic suspension of your driver's license. Moreover, in addition to losing your license for refusing the test, you could still end up convicted of a DUI offense as well.
Refusing a chemical test can work against you in court
If you intend to push back against the pending DUI charge related to your traffic stop, refusing a chemical breath test could actually hurt your case. You may think that because the state does not have chemical evidence of impairment, that you will have a better chance at beating the charges.
In reality, the law allows law enforcement to testify to the court that you refused the test. That refusal can be seen as acknowledgment of impairment. In that scenario, you will likely face all the consequences of a DUI, as well as the consequences of violating the state's implied consent chemical testing laws.
People facing criminal charges related to alcohol and driving should always explore legal options before making major choices about their defense. You likely have options available to mount a rigorous defense, depending on your circumstances.