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Why you probably should not refuse a breath test

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a bad idea. After all, New York has strict penalties for drunk driving. Fortunately, driving your car after consuming a few beers or cocktails is something you never have to do. If you find yourself beside the road in the middle of a DWI stop, though, you may think refusing to take a breath test is a good option. It usually is not. 

Officers use roadside breath tests to determine if drivers have a blood alcohol concentration that is above the 0.08 percent threshold. Here are three reasons you should probably not refuse to submit to a breath test. 

1. The roadside test may not be official 

When officers pull over a motorist for driving under the influence, they often do not use an official breath testing device to gauge BAC. Instead, they use the roadside test as a reason to take the driver into custody. Then, at the police station, they require the motorist to take an official breath test in front of cameras. Even if you receive a bad reading beside the road, your BAC may fall below the legal limit before you take the official breath test. 

2. Breath tests are not infallible 

Like all machines, breath test devices are not perfect. If an officer fails to calibrate the device properly, it may give a false reading. Further, you must take the test correctly for it to give reliable results. If the officer does not give you directions on how to use the device, the results may be bad. Either way, you may be able to attack the validity of the test in court. 

3. Refusing the test has consequences 

In New York, refusing to take a breath test has serious consequences. Note, when you obtained your Empire State driver’s license, you gave implied consent for breath testing. If you refuse the test, you face a year-long suspension of your driving privileges. You also face a stiff fine. 

The best way to avoid a DWI is never to drink and drive. Because life regularly interferes with good planning, though, you may eventually see flashing lights in your rearview mirror after a night on the town. If you do, refusing to take a breath test is probably not a good strategy for avoiding the legal consequences of a DWI.

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