What to Expect If You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Utah

When you get your Utah driver’s license, you may not be aware that you are also automatically consenting to a breathalyzer or blood test if the police suspect that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After the officer reads them the Implied Consent warning, which explains the consequences they could face for refusing to take a chemical test, people are surprised by the substantial penalties that could be inflicted upon them if they refuse Breathalyzer testing in Utah.

Should You Refuse?

Breathalyzer testing has known reliability issues, whether it is administered in the field or at the police station. For example:

  • The police officer who administers the test may not be properly trained and qualified to do so
  • The machine may not have been properly calibrated or maintained
  • Smokers may get a higher blood alcohol content (BAC) reading due to nicotine absorption through the bronchial tubes and airways
  • Medical conditions like heartburn, fever, diabetes, and even a ruptured eardrum can all compromise test results
  • Those who work in the painting business and other occupations where they are exposed to vapors and gas can have deceptively high Breathalyzer results

Even if you burp just before or while blowing into the Breathalyzer, it can cause a false reading. The officer administering the test is technically supposed to be ensure that you haven’t belched, vomited, regurgitated, or put anything in your mouth for at least 20 minutes prior to testing.

Given the possibility that you could incriminate yourself with a false reading, it’s normal to want to refuse a Breathalyzer, but by violating Utah’s Implied Consent law, you face certain penalties.

Penalties for Refusal

When you refuse a breath test, your driver’s license is immediately suspended. The duration of the suspension depends on the presence of similar offenses on your record. First-time offenders can lose their license for 18 months, while repeat offenders can face a license suspension of three years. In addition, if you are under 21, your license could be suspended for 18 months or until you turn 21, whichever is longer.

You have the right to appeal the license suspension, but you must send a hearing request to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. You also need to present a defense that can persuade the DMV to overturn the automatic suspension. This is where a Utah DUI attorney can help.

Your attorney can challenge the suspension and request its dismissal by arguing that the Breathalyzer test was inconclusive or performed incorrectly. They may also demonstrate that the police did not have reasonable grounds to stop you  and/or were guilty of procedural errors. If criminal charges do result from your arrest, your attorney can represent you and use their knowledge of Utah DUI law to reduce the charges or get the case dismissed altogether. They will guide you through the legal maze that DUI charges can create and relentlessly advocate for you so that you have the best chance of putting the incident behind you.

If you have lost your license for refusing a Breathalyzer test in Utah and are possibly facing criminal DUI charges, contact Arnold Wadsworth & Coggins today. We will handle your case with the diligence, professionalism, and legal acumen that you deserve.

Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates