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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Refusing a breath test in New York carries serious penalties

An evening of fun and revelry can quickly become one filled with panic and fear when New Yorkers are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving. Many choose not to submit to a breath test in an effort to prevent incriminating themselves. However, declining to perform a breathalyzer does not necessarily mean that a person will not be charged with DUI. In fact, refusing a breath test carries serious penalties, some of which are just as severe as those resulting from alcohol-related offenses.

The ability to operate a motor vehicle in the state of New York is a privilege. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, New York drivers have presumably consented to breath testing for drunk driving under the state’s implied consent law. However, this does not mean that people do not have the right to refuse such testing. Instead, it makes refusal a separate issue from any alcohol-related driving charges. Therefore, those who will not submit to a breathalyzer are subject to penalties aside from those resulting from being convicted of DUI or DWAI charges.

In general, those charged with a chemical test refusal are subject to fines and a driver’s license revocation. For a first time offense, there is a mandatory fine of $500. In addition, people may have their driving privileges revoked for a period of at least 12 months. The penalties are generally increased for those who refuse a test within five years of a prior drunk driving or chemical test refusal charge. In these cases, the mandatory fine that drivers face is $750. Additionally, drivers over the age of 21 will typically have their license revoked for 18 months, at minimum. Those under the age of 21 are subject to a driver’s license revocation for at least one year, according to the SafeNY website.

Being pulled over and charged with alcohol-related driving offenses can be very serious. As such, those who have experienced this type of situation may benefit from seeking legal counsel and representation. Working with an attorney may help people to understand their rights and options, as well as the consequences of the decisions they make.

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