You may have heard that refusing a breath test during a DWI traffic stop in Jackson County, Missouri will result in losing your driver’s license for 1 year. This is true if you refuse after a law enforcement officer arrests you, also known as the post-arrest breath test. However, another test, called the portable breath test, does not carry this penalty when you refuse it.

 

Pros and Cons of Refusing the Portable Breath Test

When a police officer assesses you for intoxication, you’ll likely be asked to take a breath test. Officers carry handheld breath testing devices for use on the side of the road. Don’t expect the officer to mention that you have the option to refuse. As long as you are at least 21, however, you do not have to comply with the request.

Possible benefits of refusal:

  • Avoiding the risk of providing an officer with probable cause to arrest you
  • Avoiding the risk of false-positive
  • Exercising your right to decline a test

Courts do not recognize the readings provided by the portable breath test device as evidence of guilt due to their questionable accuracy.

Probable results of refusal:

  • Getting arrested based on officer’s observations
  • Must take a test after arrest anyway
  • Being viewed as guilty by prosecutor due to uncooperative attitude

Pros and Cons of Refusing the Post-Arrest Breath Test

A prosecutor will admit the results from post-arrest chemical testing as evidence against you, and the state expects you to provide it. To get a driver’s license in Missouri, you must agree to test for intoxicating substances after an arrest. The law views this requirement as implied consent. Therefore, you cannot refuse a breath, blood, or urine test after arrest without legal consequences. Your refusal will prompt the arresting agency to immediately revoke your driver’s license. This is known as chemical revocation.

Possible benefits of refusal:

  • Prevent collection of hard evidence about intoxication
  • Avoid a drunk driving conviction
  • Might regain license after appealing the revocation

Probable results of refusal:

  • Lose driving privileges for at least 1 year
  • Must complete special requirements to regain license
  • Get convicted on basis of other evidence

Your Rights Concerning Chemical Revocation

Even if your arrest does not ultimately result in a DWI or DUI conviction, the chemical revocation remains in place. However, you may challenge a chemical revocation if you act quickly.

When you refuse the post-arrest chemical test and lose your license, the arresting law enforcement agency will give you a 15-day temporary driving permit. During that 15-day period, you can ask for an administrative hearing to reconsider the action.

Even if the revocation stands after a hearing, you may seek limited driving privileges to attend work, school, medical appointments, or a substance abuse program. After 1 year, you may apply for a reinstatement of your driving privileges.

 

Legal Guidance After a DWI Arrest

Refusal of either a portable breath test or post-arrest breath test will not protect you from prosecution. You must still answer for criminal charges, and an attorney could identify a strategy to defend you.

If you are facing DWI charges in Jackson County, contact the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center for a free consultation. Our trusted legal team will do whatever it takes to protect you and your rights. Call us today. (816) 281-0941