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What is the Massachusetts implied consent law?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | DUI/OUI |

Police officers performing traffic stops may issue tickets if they catch someone speeding or witness them turning without using a signal. Other times, police officers begin to suspect more serious traffic infractions and may decide to arrest someone. Those who demonstrate poor ability at the wheel or who fail certain tests could end up arrested for an operating under the influence (OUI) charge. OUI accusations can lead to a variety of different penalties including jail time and license suspension.

Motorists hoping to avoid a conviction may want to assert themselves during a traffic stop. For example, they might refuse to perform a breath test. These drivers may not realize until it is too late that the implied consent law in Massachusetts could inspire secondary penalties for refusing a chemical test.

How the implied consent law works

People generally have a right against self-incrimination, which is why people believe they can decline chemical testing during a traffic stop. However, the state can potentially limit certain rights when people engage in certain activities that the state considers a privilege.

Despite what many people assume, driving is a privilege, not a right. The government has the ability to limit or terminate driving privileges in an assortment of different situations. Anyone driving on public roads has already given their implied consent to chemical testing in scenarios serious enough to warrant their arrest.

If they refuse to submit to a test when an officer already has probable cause to suspect them of intoxication, they may open themselves up to secondary consequences. The state can still pursue OUI charges and can also penalize them for refusing the breath test. The standard penalty for refusing a breath test during an OUI arrest is the suspension of someone’s driver’s license.

Someone who has no prior OUI convictions could face a suspension that lasts 180 days. A single prior OUI can increase that license suspension to three years. Someone with two prior OUI offenses on their record could lose their driver’s license for five years. Refusing a breath test with three or more prior OUI convictions could lead to a lifetime license suspension. Those penalties are in addition to any consequences the courts impose for an OUI conviction or guilty plea.

Depending on someone’s driving record, fighting back against an implied consent violation can be as important as properly responding to a pending OUI charge. Learning more about the laws that govern drunk driving cases in Massachusetts can help drivers protect the privileges that they depend on to support themselves and their families.

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