Chemical Test Refusal – What’s Next?

What is a Chemical Test?

If you are arrested for a DUI/OWI, Michigan law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test. 

Michigan’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking this chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).  The test must be taken as soon as possible from the time when you were last driving. The officer gets to choose which test you take, but the law gives a special exemption for diabetics, hemophiliacs, or people taking anticoagulants – they don’t have to take the blood test.

Additionally, Michigan law states that you consent to taking a preliminary breath test, even if you have not been arrested. This works like a field sobriety test. The officer will use the results to establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence. You could refuse to take this test, but you would have to pay a fine.

You can read about the preliminary breath test and Michigan’s implied consent law in the Michigan Compiled Laws 625(a) and 625(c).

In Michigan, are police required to measure your BAC?

Michigan law doesn’t require the police to measure your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) within any specific amount of time of after you have been pulled over while driving. But, to prove an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) based on a BAC of 0.08% or more, the prosecutor must show your BAC was over the legal limit (0.08%) at the time you were driving. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution might have more difficulty proving its case when there’s a long delay between when you were driving and when police measured your BAC.

What if I refuse?

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Refusal to take test 1 year license suspension 2 year license suspension 5 year license suspension

In Michigan, it doesn’t benefit you to refuse the chemical test. If you do, your license will automatically be suspended by the Secretary of State (SOS) for 1 year (for 1st offense). At the time of refusal, you will get a written notice from the police officer that gives you 14 days to request an appeal hearing with the SOS to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license.

The appeal hearing will cover only the following issues:

(a) Whether the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person had committed a crime described in section 625c(1).

(b) Whether the person was placed under arrest for a crime described in section 625c(1).

(c) If the person refused to submit to the test upon the request of the officer, whether the refusal was reasonable.

(d) Whether the person was advised of the rights under section 625a(6).

*The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in the Michigan Compiled Laws 257.625(f).

If you’re denied the appeal of your license suspension by the SOS, the next step is to appeal for a hardship or restricted driver’s license through the Circuit Court.

 

Get Help With Your DUI/OWI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Oakland County, please reach out to us for help. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUI/OWI has serious consequences, especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about Michigan’s laws and about how the system works in your District’s court.