If you are pulled over on the suspicion of drunk driving in Massachusetts, charge of operating under the influence (OUI) can be brought. This is the most common method of testing BAC throughout the country. If your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you can be convicted for an OUI in Massachusetts.
Can you refuse to take the breathalyzer? Massachusetts is an implied consent state, which means that by the act of driving a vehicle, you have consented to take a chemical test to find out the BAC in your body. That said, you are within your rights to refuse a test; officials cannot force you to take it. In addition, the fact of your refusal cannot be used in a criminal trial against you in Massachusetts.
The penalties for refusing to take a test, however, are severe. The first is impoundment of your car for up to 12 hours.
The second penalty for refusal is a mandatory suspension of your license. If it is a first offense, your license will be suspended for 180 days. If it is a second or subsequent offense, your license will be suspended for 3 years.
Police should measure your BAC when you are first stopped. Occasionally in cases of refusal, the BAC is administered later. Although the BAC might be lower than when the defendant was originally stopped (assuming that more time has passed without the defendant drinking), the court could use the elapsed time to argue a case against you.
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There are some defenses against breathalyzer results, such as arguing that the tests are unreliable or were administered improperly. However, these defenses cannot be made in the case of a refusal of the test.
OUI law in Massachusetts is complex and it is advisable to consult with a lawyer about your circumstances if you have been charged. Call us to schedule a free initial consultation.