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Can I refuse a Breathalyzer test?

Missouri police officers who suspect a driver is intoxicated may ask the driver to submit a breath sample to determine how much alcohol is in the driver’s system. Missouri law requires that drivers consent to roadside breath testing when they apply for and receive a state-issued driver’s license.

Despite Missouri’s implied consent law, every driver has the right to refuse a breath alcohol test when an officer asks for a breath sample. However, breath test refusal carries certain consequences. The person refusing the test may be given 20 minutes to contact an attorney if they ask to do so. After this 20-minute period, the officer who stopped the person will take their driver’s license and issue them a notice of license revocation if they continue to refuse to take the test. The chemical revocation for refusing a test lasts for one year.

After the officer takes a driver’s license following a breath test refusal, they will issue a 15-day driving permit to allow the person to request a hearing to contest the revocation. At the hearing, a judge will determine if police had reasonable belief that the driver was intoxicated at the time the officer requested a breath test. After 90 days, it may be possible for people with a chemical revocation to obtain a limited permit to enable them to drive to work, school, treatment programs or other important locations.

People facing a license revocation after refusing a breath alcohol test may be unsure whether they should contest their revocation. They also often face drunk driving charges, and their refusal to take a test may be used as evidence against them in court. A DWI defense attorney may be able to get DWI charges reduced to reckless driving or other lesser charges, particularly if there is no other evidence proving their client was driving intoxicated.

Source: Missouri Revised Statutes, “Chapter 577 Public Safety Offenses”, November 18, 2014

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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