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What happens when drivers refuse to take a Breathalyzer test?

Ohio calls drunk driving an OVI, or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When law enforcement pulls a driver over for a suspected OVI, they commonly conduct several tests. However, a driver in West Chester Township, Ohio, may wonder what happens if he or she refuses to take the tests.

Ohio OVI chemical testing laws

Under Ohio’s implied consent laws, drivers agree to chemical testing when they obtain their driver’s licenses. The chemical testing may include the Breathalyzer or blood or urine tests that measure a person’s BAC, or blood alcohol content. A Breathalyzer is the most commonly used test for DUI/OVI, which uses a breath sample from the driver.

The officer conducts the tests because he or she needs probable cause to arrest the driver, and the test is evidence. A driver may get charged with OVI with a BAC of .08 or more and a urine alcohol concentration of 0.11.

Penalties for refusing to take a chemical test

If the driver has not been arrested, he or she may legally refuse to submit to a pre-screening chemical test under the law. The officer must state what happens if the driver declines to take a test on the first and second offense. A driver cannot refuse a test after he or she has been arrested, and this person faces first-degree misdemeanor penalties for his or her refusal.

The first time a driver refuses a test, usually, he or she is subject to an immediate administrative one-year license suspension. He or she may face three days to six months in jail, a three-day intervention program, and a minimum $375 fine.

The license suspension increases to two years for the second offense and the first offense with a prior conviction in the last 10 years. The intervention program may be given as an alternative to jail, but the penalty for refusing it is six days in jail.

The refusal to take a chemical test depends on the situation, but it counts as a separate charge. However, chemical tests aren’t always accurate, which the defense can debate.

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