John Doe is driving his car after having consumed a few drinks. Suddenly there is a police car behind him and he’s eventually stopped.
After sobriety tests are performed, he’s arrested and taken to jail. He believes he’s going to be given a breathalyzer test and wonders if he can lawfully refuse it.
The answer to his question is found in what is commonly called Michigan’s “Implied Consent Law.”
This is a statute, which provides that if a person is operating a vehicle upon a public highway or other defined areas they are considered to have given their consent to the administration of chemical tests of their blood, breath, or urine to determine if they have violated one or more operating while intoxicated laws.
Under this law, John can’t lawfully refuse to take a test. However before any tests are administered, he is entitled to receive some additional information under another statute as follows:
• Refusal to take a test will result in his driver’s license being suspended and 6 points on his driving record.
• If he refuses to take a test it won’t be given without a court order.
• The results of the test are admissible in court and will be used with other admissible evidence to establish guilt or innocence.
• If he takes one of the tests at the request of a police officer he has the right to have another test administered by a person he chooses.
In the vast majority of cases, a person in John’s position agrees to take a breathalyzer test. However when there’s a refusal to take any test, a search warrant for a blood draw is normally obtained from a district court judge.
All states have implied consent laws and the penalties for a refusal vary, with some states making refusals a criminal offense.
These are serious matters and driving while intoxicated remains a significant problem in the United States.
There are many statistics that I could cite for this proposition, but here is one that stands out — every day in America 29 people die as a result of drunk driving accidents.
Additional drinking and/or under the influence of drugs and driving statistics are available at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website nhtsa.gov.