As Michigan DUI defense lawyers, we are often asked ‘do you have to take a breathalyzer test if you get pulled over in Michigan?’ This is not a straightforward question.
Motorists have the right to refuse a Breathalyzer test but it can leave them open to unforeseen and unpleasant consequences.
Many drivers don’t know much about DUI/OWI procedures. They receive a rude awakening when a police officer pulls them over for the first time on suspicion of drunk driving. Some drivers believe drunk driving evidence cannot be used against them in court if they refuse to take a breath test. This is not the case. Drivers who decline a test can fall foul of the state’s “implied consent” laws.
What Are Michigan’s Implied Consent Laws?
Under Michigan Law, your presence on a public highway gives police the right to test you for alcohol or drugs via a breath or a urine test. Police require a court order to test for alcohol in your blood. Michigan’s implied consent laws mean you are in violation of the Michigan Vehicle Code if you refuse a breathalyzer test. Police must first pull you over on reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated. Officers cannot randomly stop motorists to test for DUI/OWI in Michigan.
If you refuse a breath test, the police officer will submit an Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Testing to the Secretary of State’s office. Police give you a notice stating you have 14 days to contest the finding at an administrative hearing. The police officer also has the right to confiscate and destroy your regular driver’s license and replace it with a paper permit. You can use the paper permit to drive with until the hearing.
The position is set out by the Michigan Secretary of State. Her website states six points will be added to your driver’s record for a refusal. Your license, or non-resident operating privilege, faces a suspension for one year. The state’s suspension of a license, or non-resident operating privilege, is automatic after a refusal to take a test. You may also receive criminal convictions related to the traffic stop.
People who refuse tests often face ongoing problems. Once your license is suspended you will be ineligible for a restricted license with an ignition interlock device unless you file a separate appeal with the Circuit Court. There is no guarantee a judge will give you a restricted license.
DUI Suspects in Michigan Receive Two Breath Tests
Many people don’t realize DUI/OWI suspects receive two Breathalyzer tests. Police administer the preliminary test at the roadside. Officers give you a test to help confirm their suspicions that you were driving intoxicated. You don’t have to agree to the preliminary test. Although the courts cannot impose sanctions such as taking away your license and giving you points, you might be fined for a civil infraction. The roadside test helps police to decide whether to arrest you. Officers also use field sobriety tests to bolster their case. Refusing both field sobriety tests and the initial test, known as the preliminary breath test (PBT), can be beneficial to your defense.
If you refuse a roadside test or fail it you will likely be taken to the police station for a more accurate Breathalyzer test.
Most police stations in Michigan use DataMaster Breathalyzers. The machines are considered more accurate than hand-held roadside machines. The evidence from a police station breath test may be used to charge you with DUI/OWI. If you refuse to take this test, Michigan’s implied consent laws can be used against you. From the minute you obtain your driver’s license, you gave consent to a breath test after police pull you over.
If you refuse a breath test administered at the police station, police can obtain a search warrant. They can require you to submit to a blood test. Unfortunately, refusing a DataMaster test can give police all they need to charge you with drunk driving as well as enhanced penalties.
Although you don’t have to take a Breathalyzer test if you get pulled over in Michigan, it’s certainly advisable to take the test at the police station, even if you refuse a roadside test.
Ask an Attorney About Taking a Breathalyzer Test if You Get Pulled over in Michigan
It’s important to know your rights in an OWI case. Many drivers fail to realize there are ways to fight these life-altering charges. Your Detroit DUI defense lawyer may argue that the police officer failed to establish you were drunk at the wheel. Your arrest may have been improper. Often police fail to use and calibrate breath machines. Recently, Michigan State Police discovered employees from St. Louis-based vendor Intoximeter, a contractor for DataMasters machines, committed possible fraud in the calibration of the machines. The errors place hundreds of Michigan DUI convictions in jeopardy. Visit our website to schedule a free consultation with our Royal Oak, MI-based criminal defense lawyers.