The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey, located in Fort Wayne, represents clients accused of driving under the influence (DUI) and operating while intoxicated (OWI) in northeast Indiana. We realize there is a lot of confusion about whether drivers have the right to refuse to submit to sobriety testing, specifically breath tests (Breathalyzer). The best thing you can do is speak with an attorney if you refused a breath test or otherwise need help fighting an OWI charge.
To arrest a driver for OWI, the police officer must establish probable cause that the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit, which is currently .08 percent. Keep in mind that you can also be charged with OWI if you have any amount of schedule I or II drugs in your system (marijuana, cocaine, meth, etc.).
To establish probable cause, officers use field sobriety tests and chemical tests. You can refuse a field sobriety test with no legal penalty, but if you refuse a chemical test, such as the Breathalyzer, your driver’s license can be suspended. This is because Indiana has an implied consent law, so if you are using an Indiana road, you have already given your consent to allow officers to administer breath tests, urine tests or blood tests if you are suspected of OWI. Officers have the right to ask you to take more than one of these tests and can draw blood for a blood test even if you are unconscious.
If you refuse a breath test, it’s true that the officer may be deprived of any hard evidence that you have been drinking and driving. However, even if OWI or DUI can’t be proven, your refusal still carries legal consequences. Specifically, Indiana law says that refusing a chemical test results in a one-year driver’s license suspension for a first offense. If you have a prior OWI conviction, the license suspension is two years. You are entitled to a hearing before your license is suspended. As your attorney, Ryan Lackey can represent you at the hearing, which should take place within 20 days of your arrest.
Refusing a test may not always prevent you from being arrested. The officer may be able to establish probable cause to arrest you through field sobriety testing or other means. And, you can still be charged with OWI if you didn’t take the breath test. Breath test results aren’t always necessary to convict someone, particularly if the officer testifies at trial and establishes that other circumstances are enough to prove intoxication. We’ll do everything we can to protect your driving privileges and keep you out of jail.
The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey in Fort Wayne is ready to help you fight OWI charges or help you after you refused a breath test in Indiana. Call 260-222-7364 or contact us online to schedule a free attorney consultation today.