Refusing a breathalyzer test in Missouri, as in many other states, carries significant legal consequences and implications for individuals suspected of driving while intoxicated. The decision to decline a breathalyzer test is a critical one that can affect a person’s driving privileges, legal rights, and future.
In Missouri, like most states, implied consent laws stipulate that by obtaining a driver’s license and driving on the state’s roads, individuals implicitly agree to submit to chemical tests, including breathalyzers if law enforcement suspects them of DWI. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test is considered a violation of this implied consent, and the consequences can be severe.
First and foremost, refusing a breathalyzer test can lead to an immediate suspension of your driver’s license. In Missouri, the Department of Revenue can suspend your license for one year for the first refusal and even longer for subsequent refusals. This suspension can disrupt your daily life, making it challenging to commute to work, school, or other essential activities.
A St. Louis DWI lawyer can stop the automatic one year revocation by filing a petition for review and request a stay order from the court. It is important to act quickly because the petition must be filed within 30 days of the arrest. For most first time offenders, the prosecutor will make an offer to “confess” the petition which will result in the one year revocation being dropped. Generally, this offer will consist of completing community service, completing classes, and pleading guilty to the DWI.
If an offer cannot be reached the petition will be heard in front of a judge. At the hearing, the prosecutor has the burden of establishing that the officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you for DWI and that you did in fact refuse a breath test after being read implied consent.
Additionally, refusing a breathalyzer can have implications for a related criminal charge of DWI. While the prosecution may not have a breathalyzer result to use as evidence, the refusal itself can be presented as evidence of guilt. Jurors may interpret the refusal as consciousness of guilt. This can weaken the defendant’s case and potentially lead to a conviction.
In conclusion, refusing a breathalyzer test in Missouri is a decision that carries significant legal consequences, including license suspension, potential court penalties, and the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices. It is crucial for individuals facing DWI charges to consult with an attorney who can provide guidance and representation throughout the legal process.
If you or a loved one refused a breathalyzer after being arrested for DWI, contact us at 314-526-3779 for a free consultation.