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  • Matthew W. Peterson

What Happens if I Refuse a Breath Test in Massachusetts?

Updated: Mar 13


Refusing a breathalyzer test can be a strategic choice - it depends on how much you've been drinking. Refusing will result an immediate driver's license suspension, but so does failing the breath test.

While refusing a breath test can help in your OUI defense, it also has its own consequences. Refusing a breath test or other chemical test in Massachusetts means that your driver's license could be suspended anywhere from 180 days up to life, depending on your age and history.

See below for a chart showing the length of suspension by age and number of prior convictions for operating under the influence:

Over 21

No Prior OUI Convictions: 180 days

One Prior OUI Conviction: Three years

Two Prior OUI Convictions: Five years

Three or More Prior OUI Convictions: Lifetime

Under 21

No Prior OUI Convictions: Three years

One Prior OUI Conviction: Three years

Two Prior OUI Convictions: Five years

Three or More Prior OUI Convictions: Lifetime

There are also enhanced penalties if you have a prior OUI involving bodily injury or if you have a prior OUI with a vehicular homicide.


However, refusing a breath test also deprives the Commonwealth of critical evidence against you if you fight your OUI charge. It's a strategic choice that depends on how much you've been drinking.


If you fail a breathalyzer test, your license will also be suspended immediately.

Can I Get This Suspension Reduced?

Yes, your suspension can be reduced if you enter the "24D" program for first time offenders. If you're under 21 and have no prior OUI offenses, your driver's license suspension can be reduced under the First Offender's Program. You may also be eligible for a hardship license.

Depending on how much you've been drinking, the driver's license suspension may be worth it to avoid an OUI conviction. If you are charged with OUI, it's critical to get an OUI defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. Contact me today, and let's get started on your defense.


My office is located in Boston, Massachusetts, but I handle criminal cases, including OUI, in all Massachusetts courts. Contact me at 617-356-8217.

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