Consequences of Refusing Chemical Tests for DUI

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Consequences of Refusing Chemical Tests for DUIIf you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you may hear conflicting advice about how to handle chemical testing of your breath, blood, or urine. Some people say that you should refuse any such testing because when you go to court, the prosecution will not have enough evidence to convict you. Others say that it will be worse for you in the long run if you do not comply with testing.

The purpose of this article is not to advise you on whether or not you should submit to chemical testing. It is merely to give you a general idea of what could happen if you choose not to.

Implied Consent

All states have implied consent laws, although there is a lot of variation among them. Implied consent laws presume that, by requesting the privilege of becoming a licensed driver, you have already agreed to submit to at least some chemical testing if you are suspected of driving under the influence. Therefore, one of the most common consequences of refusing chemical testing is suspension or revocation of your license. It is usually about 12 months before you can try to get it back.

Some states do nothing more in response to a refusal than to take away your driving privileges. However, some states impose even harsher penalties. For example, a couple of states impose fines of hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars.

In some jurisdictions, your past record can determine what the consequences of your refusal will be. Harsher penalties are imposed for a second or third offense than a first offense. Other jurisdictions, however, impose the same penalty across the board.


Police do not need a warrant to administer a breath test and can impose penalties for those who refuse them. However, some people feel that the consequences of conviction for a third or fourth DUI are worse than those for refusing a breath test and make a strategic decision not to submit. To prevent this, some states have set up a system whereby law enforcement can use mobile devices to obtain electronic warrants for breath testing from judges within the short time frame needed to perform it before the alcohol works out of your system.

Blood tests are a different matter, however. The Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that it is unconstitutional to make it illegal to refuse a blood test. Law enforcement must first obtain a warrant. Refusing a warranted test could land you in contempt.

Incidentally, it is not necessarily true that refusing chemical testing means you won’t be convicted. Having test data may make it easier, but other evidence of your impairment could sway the court. A drunk driving lawyer in Bloomington, IL can work out a viable defense strategy for you. Contact a law office for more information.


Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into criminal law and refusing chemical tests for a DUI.