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What happens if I decline the breathaylzer test during a DWI police stop?

You’re driving on State Route 36 when a flash of blue and red appears in your rear-view mirror. You pull over to the shoulder and the police car follows. The trooper asks if you have been drinking and wants you to take a roadside breath test to find out. Should you?

Whether you take the breath test, commonly known as the breathalyzer test, is up to you. But there could be serious consequences you should know about before you ever find yourself in the situation outlined above.

Implied consent and breathalyzers

Like almost every other state, New York has an implied consent law. When you drive on a public road in New York State, by implication, you consent to taking a breathalyzer upon a police officer’s request. However, this does not make declining the test a crime that can send you to jail. Instead, it’s treated like a traffic violation. Your driver’s license will be temporarily suspended, and the DMV will hold a hearing will be scheduled to determine if you broke the implied consent law. If the DMV determines you did, it will suspend your license for one year and fine you $500. If you want to reinstate your license after your suspension ends, you will pay a one-time $100 reinstatement fee and a $250 “Driver Responsibility Assessment” for three years.

Weighing the consequences

Refusing the roadside breath test can be expensive and disrupt your ability to transport yourself around. But it still might be worthwhile in many cases. A conviction for crimes like DWI and aggravated DWI can carry jail time and other severe penalties. But the officer must establish probable cause before they can arrest you, with the breathalyzer results often being one of the key pieces of evidence to make an arrest.

With this information, you can make an intelligent choice if you are ever pulled over on suspicion of DWI. No matter what you decide, you could find yourself arrested and charged with drinking and driving. Then you would need sound legal advice to preserve your rights.