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What happens when you refuse the breath test?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | DWI |

One of the most common questions that people have is whether they can refuse a breath test during a traffic stop. In Missouri, if the police pull you over for suspicion of driving under the influence and refuse to comply with the breath test, you face serious consequences.

Understanding what it means for your situation can help you decide if you should refuse the breath test or comply.

Administrative penalties

Missouri is an implied consent state, which means that you consent to a chemical test, such as a breath test, simply by obtaining your license and driving a vehicle. If you refuse a breath test during a DWI stop, it results in an automatic one-year suspension of your driving privileges. This suspension does not depend upon a conviction.

Increased criminal penalties

Refusing a breath test also means harsher penalties following a DWI conviction. A first offense is normally a class B misdemeanor but refusing a test escalates it to a class A misdemeanor. This increases the potential maximum sentence as well as the associated fines.

Additional consequences

Aside from license suspension and increased fines and jail time, refusing a breath test means police are more likely to seek a search warrant for a blood draw. With a search warrant, you cannot refuse the blood test.

There are severe consequences in Missouri for refusing the breath test during a DWI stop. Understanding the foundations of implied consent, your right to refusal and the associated penalties makes it easier to make an informed decision if you get stopped for suspicion of DWI.