Should I Blow into the Breathalyzer if I'm Pulled over for DUI?
Updated: Mar 13
The short answer is that it depends on how sure you are you can pass the breathalyzer. If you are positive you can pass, take the breath test, but if you're not absolutely sure, it's usually best to refuse the breathalyzer.
Some websites may tell you to always refuse the breathalyzer, but this isn't always true. If you can pass, refusing the breathalyzer just means an unnecessary driver's license suspension.
It's also important to remember that you must be lawfully arrested to be required to blow into the a breathalyzer, which is at the station, or do any blood tests. If you have not been lawfully arrested for DUI and are then required to blow into the breathalyzer, this is not admissible against you. You must also be on a public road.
Here are the basic facts that you should consider when thinking about whether to blow into the breathalyzer test.
Refusing to Blow Means a Driver's License Suspension
Alabama is an implied consent state. This means that by exercising your privilege to drive on the roads of Alabama, you give your consent to chemical tests such as the breathalyzer and field sobriety tests.
So the state can punish you if you refuse to do these tests. For the first time you refuse, it's a 90 day driver's license suspension. For the second time you refuse within 5 years, it's a one-year suspension. If you were involved in a crash with serious injuries and refuse the breathalyzer, it's a two-year suspension.
If You Blow Over .08, You are Presumed Guilty of DUI
Alabama's DUI law presumes you're guilty of DUI if you have over .08 blood-alcohol in your blood, so blowing over that will almost guarantee a conviction for driving under the influence, meaning you have little chance of fighting it.
Even if You Refuse the Breathalyzer, the Police Can Get a Warrant and do a Blood Test Anyway
The Police can take you to a hospital, get a warrant, and draw blood from you even if you refuse to do the breathalyzer. There's some debate about whether you can still refuse this blood test, but refusing the breathalyzer in a case like this could mean they could get the information they want anyway.
A First-Time DUI Offender can get DUI Diversion
If you're a first-time DUI offender, you could receive DUI Diversion instead of a DUI conviction, but only if you blow into the breathalyzer. This could mean that your charges would be dismissed after you complete alcohol testing for a year, some classes, and a victim impact panel. Find out more details about DUI Diversion at my blog here.
This means if you blow over the limit and it's your first time, you could avoid a driver's license suspension and eventually get the charge dismissed. So it may not be worth the driver's license suspension to refuse to blow if it's your first time.
If You Refuse the Breathalyzer, a Conviction Will Mean an Ignition Interlock for Two Years
If you refuse to blow into the breathalyzer and are convicted anyway of DUI, you will be required to install an ignition interlock in your car for two years. Not only does this mean your car won't start without a breath test of below .02, but you'll be required to pay $75 to the Court for the first month, about $150 to install the ignition interlock, and $80 a month to monitor the interlock. If you are caught driving a car without an interlock, you'll be guilty of a misdemeanor, and if you don't have a car, you'll have to pay the $75 to the Court regardless.
The decision of whether to blow into the breathalyzer is much more complicated than manypeople make it out to be. You have to consider whether it's more important to keep your driver's license or be able to fight the DUI later. If you have any questions feel free to ask, and, as always, let me know if I can help!