What happens if you refuse a breath test in Massachusetts?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Driving is how most people in Massachusetts get to their destinations. You and many other drivers know that there are always risks on the roadways and that police officers patrol in hopes of mitigating those risks. However, you may have concerns when an officer stops your vehicle because he or she considers you a risk.

You likely always try to abide by the law when driving, so when an officer pulled you over, you understandably began to wonder what the issue was. You did not think you were speeding or committing any other moving violations, but perhaps you had a brake light out without knowing it or some other mechanical issue. When the officer asked if you had been drinking, you may have said no, but that did not stop an investigation.

Breath test usage

It is common for police officers to use roadside breath tests in an attempt to determine whether a person has alcohol in his or her system. However, it is common knowledge that these test machines are flawed in several ways, including effects from external factors in the environment, picking up chemicals and mistaking them for alcohol, and giving the wrong result if not calibrated or used correctly.

You may have chosen not to take the breath test because you did not want to provide any false, incriminating evidence that could result in an OUI charge. However, Massachusetts is an implied consent state, which means that you will face penalties for not taking the test. It is not a criminal act to refuse the test, but administrative penalties will likely apply.

What are administrative penalties?

In cases of chemical test refusal, administrative penalties typically come in the form of driver’s license suspension. After your refusal, the officer involved may have taken the following actions:

  • Taken your driver’s license to prevent you from driving
  • Given you a written notice of the suspension of your driver’s license
  • Taken your vehicle to the impound for 12 hours
  • Notified the Registry of Motor Vehicles of your license suspension within 24 hours

Understandably, you may have concerns about your driver’s license suspension, how you could get your license back and whether you could argue against the officer’s actions in taking your license. This type of situation can seem unfair and complex, so you may want to gain information on your legal options and an assessment of the situation overall to determine your possible courses of action.