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What happens if one refuses a breath test?

Drivers in New York who are stopped by law enforcement and asked to take field sobriety tests or submit to a chemical test will often be confused as to what their rights are. Many might be under the impression that refusing a breath test or declining to take part in field sobriety tests falls under their legal rights. This is a mistake.

When a person has a driver’s license, they give implied consent to take part in these tests when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. The goal of the breath test is to determine the blood-alcohol content. If a driver refuses, this can have serious consequences, even if the person was not legally under the influence at the time. To defend against these charges, legal help is imperative.

When the traffic stop is made, a field sobriety test might be requested by the officer. That can include a breath test. Refusing the breath test will lead to a driver’s license suspension when the person is arraigned. It will last for a minimum of one year. If there is a second offense of refusing a breath test, the suspension will be for 18 months.

Drivers under the age of 21 will face even harsher penalties. Since they are legally not allowed to drink at all, there is what is known as a “Zero Tolerance Law.” A driver’s license will be revoked for one year and there will be a penalty of $125. These are not linked to the punishments for a person being convicted of actual drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs. It is important to remember this point.

Since facing drunk driving charges can be compounded by refusing a breath test, it is vital for a person who is dealing with the allegations to have a strong legal defense to try and avoid the harshest penalties. A law firm that understands all aspects of drunk driving law including refusal and underage DUI can help with formulating a defense and perhaps keep the person from losing their driving privileges. A lawyer is key to a case and should be contacted immediately.

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James L. Riotto
Criminal Defense Lawyer

James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.

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Adam Staier
Of Counsel

About Attorney Adam Staier has spent the last seven years practicing criminal defense law throughout upstate New York and the Capital Region. He began his legal career through internships in civil law, indigent legal representation and federal energy law regulation. Finding a passion in criminal law, Mr. Staier held internships handling both prosecution and defense…

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