Implied Consent Law & Penalties Refusing a DUI Alcohol Test
Connecticut, like most other states, has what is called an “implied consent” law. This basically means that, if you drive on Connecticut roadways and are arrested for driving under the influence “DUI”, that you have already or implicitly given your consent to submit to a chemical alcohol test. Because of the implied consent law, when you refuse a breath test or other type of chemical alcohol test, the penalties are harsher than if you agree to submit to the test and fail it.
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All DUI related suspension under Connecticut’s Implied Consent Law – General Statutes § 14-227b – are for a period of 45 days. After 45 days, you are eligible to reinstate your license but you will be required to install and maintain an Ignition Interlock Device “IID” for a period of time thereafter. If you refused a breath test or other chemical test, then your IID term will be longer than it would be if you submitted to the test and had an elevated blood alcohol content.
Penalties for Refusing or Failing a BAC Breath Test
Ignition Interlock Device “IID” Requirement After the 45-Day Suspension
|Per Se Violation||1st Offense||2nd Offense||3rd Offense|
|Refusal to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test – regardless of age||1 year||2 years||3 years|
|Age 21+: (1) Test results of .08% or higher; or (2) Test results of .04% or higher if operating a commercial vehicle||6 months||1 year||2 years|
|Under Age 21: Test results of .02 or higher||1 year||2 years||3 years|
Do I have the Right to Refuse?
In Connecticut, there are three type of chemical tests for Blood Alcohol Concentration “BAC” that are admissible in DUI cases: Blood Tests, Breath Tests, and Urine Tests. The arresting police officer has the option to select the type of test. If the police officer selects a blood test, you have the right to refuse that test, and the police officer is then required to offer you another type of test. However, if the police officer selects a breath or urine test and your refuse to submit, then the police officer is not required to offer you another type of test. The police officer will note your Refusal which will subject you to the following additional penalties:
- Longer Ignition Interlock Device terms
- Evidence of your refusal will be admissible in criminal court
- The Judge may instruct the jury that your refusal is evidence of a consciousness of guilt (i.e you refused because you were drinking and presumed you would fail the test)
Generally speaking, unless you were involved in a fatality, a police officer cannot require you to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. However, because of the Implied Consent Law you will be subjected to possible additional penalties if you elect to refuse.
If I Refuse, Will the DMV Automatically Suspend my Driver’s License?
The suspension of your license is not automatic. You have the right to request a hearing at the Connecticut DMV to contest the Refusal. If you do not request a hearing or the DMV rules against you, then your license will be suspended and you will be required to install an IID. However, if the DMV rules in your favor, then you will not be suspended and will not be required to have an IID for your Refusal of the chemical alcohol test.
If you refuse to submit to a test, the police officer will hold your license for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you will be eligible to pick up your license at the police department. The police officer will then submit the report of refusal the Connecticut DMV. From there, the DMV will mail you a suspension notice. The DMV will give you a small window to request a hearing. In most cases they will also give you a 30-day grace period before imposing a suspension. However, if you have a prior conviction for DUI under General Statutes § 14-227a, the DMV will immediately suspend your license pending the outcome of the hearing.
Should I Refuse a Chemical BAC Test?
Whether or not to submit to a breath test is a very case-specific inquiry. Many factors go into whether or not your Connecticut DUI defense attorney will advise you to submit to a breathalyzer.
Generally speaking, the easiest case for DUI attorney to defend is the case were his or her client submitted to a breath test and tested well under the legal limit for BAC of .08%. As a result, most attorneys will advise you to submit to a breath test if you were not drinking and were falsely arrested.
If it is your first offense and you had very little to drink, most Connecticut DUI Defense Attorneys will also advise you to submit to the test. Even if you had quite a bit to drink, if it is your first offense, you will likely qualify for the Alcohol Education Program which would result in your criminal DUI charges being dismissed. You would then be required to serve the minimum 6-month IID period as opposed to a 1 year IID term.
If you are under the age of 21, then there is no difference between the administrative license penalties for refusing and failing a breath test. The legal limit for BAC for individuals under the age of 21 is only, .02%. Therefore, many attorneys will advise against submitting to a breath test if you are 21 and have had anything to drink.
If you have had prior instances of DUI especially prior convictions for DUI, you could be facing Felony DUI and mandatory minimum jail time at Criminal Court. If you submit to the test and have an elevated blood alcohol content above .08%, the State only need to prove that the results were reliable to obtain a conviction. If you did not submit to the test, then the State needs to prove that you were “under the influence” which is much more subjective. Many Connecticut DUI lawyers will advise against taking a breath test if you have had prior convictions for DUI and you know you had been drinking.
Lastly, if you were involved in a serious motor vehicle accident where someone was seriously injured, you could be at risk for you having your charges increased to Felony Assault or Manslaughter. In these situations, DUI lawyers will often advise against taking a breathalyzer.
Defending DUI Refusal Cases
Whether or not you refused a DUI test is a technical legal question. Many procedural safeguards must be satisfied before the DMV can suspend your license for Refusal.
At The Sills Law Firm, LLC, our Connecticut Refusal DUI lawyers have comprehensive knowledge and experience defending all types of DUI cases, including those involving refusals of chemical alcohol tests. We will prepare a detailed, comprehensive, and effective defense on your behalf. If you are facing a Connecticut license suspension for refusing a DUI test, it is crucial to act immediately. If you do not, the DMV will automatically suspend your license and mandate that you use an Ignition Interlock Device. Do not let a DUI ruin your career or future.
CONTACT US AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO BEGIN YOUR REFUSAL DUI DEFENSE NOW.