Are you required by law to take a breath test?

Most in Battle Creek are likely familiar with what a breathalyzer device is and what it used for. You might have even heard that if you are pulled over by law enforcement for suspicion of driving under the influence that you are required to take a breath test. At the same time, you might remember that your constitutional rights protect you from unlawful searches and seizures. So the question is are you really required by law to take a breath test

It depends. According to the Michigan State Department, local drivers are subject to an implied consent law. What this means is that by driving, you consent to chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol content level (this can include chemical testing of your breath, blood or urine). A refusal to take a chemical breath test could result in additional penalties on top of a DUI charge. These include losing your license for one year for your first refusal, and an additional two years for any subsequent refusals within the next seven years. 

A breathalyzer device, however, does not administer a chemical breath test. Instead, it is referred to as a preliminary alcohol screening. Such screenings are not covered under the state's implied consent law, so you are allowed to refuse them. However, doing so will likely result in your arrest, after which an officer can administer a chemical breath test. 

Why might you refuse a breathalyzer test? Their results have been proven to have such a high degree of error that they are not recognized by courts. Thus, a breathalyzer reading right on the edge of the legal limit of .08 percent may not be reliable. The information given here should not be taken as legal advice, but rather information to help you make an informed decision. 

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