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Breath Test Refusal Attorney in Chesterfield, Missouri

Refusing a breath test in Missouri can carry significant consequences, impacting your driving privileges in a DWI case. However, you should note that there are also benefits to refusing a breath test. Overall, understanding a breath test refusal is crucial for making informed decisions if you find yourself in such a situation.  

At Walker Law LLC, I will be there to fight for your rights after a DWI and breath test refusal. I have the knowledge and resources to help you seek the best possible outcome. Contact my firm for help. I proudly assist clients in Chesterfield, Missouri, and throughout Town and Country, Cottleville, and throughout St. Louis County and Charles County.   

Implied Consent Law

Missouri operates under an implied consent law, which is an important legal framework aimed at enhancing road safety and reducing incidents of driving while intoxicated (DWI).  

This law asserts that by obtaining a driver's license and driving on the state's roads, you inherently agree to submit to chemical testing—such as breath, blood, or urine tests—if you are lawfully arrested on suspicion of DWI.  

The rationale behind the implied consent law is to deter impaired driving and facilitate the timely and accurate detection of intoxicated drivers. Chemical tests provide reliable evidence of a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) or the presence of drugs, which is crucial for the enforcement of DWI regulations. 

Refusal to comply with this law carries significant and automatic penalties. If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, Missouri law mandates administrative sanctions, including the immediate suspension of the individual's driver's license. The duration of the suspension can vary, but typically, a first refusal results in a one-year license suspension. Repeat refusals or refusals coupled with prior DWI convictions can lead to even harsher penalties, such as longer suspensions or the requirement to use an ignition interlock device (IID). 

Consequences of Refusal

Refusing a breath test results in an automatic one-year suspension of your driver's license, independent of any criminal charges. This suspension can have significant impacts, such as limiting your ability to commute to work, perform daily errands, or fulfill family obligations.  

After refusing the test, you may be granted a 15-day permit to drive before your suspension takes effect. This temporary permit is intended to provide a brief window to make necessary arrangements, such as coordinating alternative transportation or addressing any obligations that require driving. 

Criminal Penalties

Refusal can be used as evidence against you in court, suggesting that you refused testing because you were under the influence. This can significantly weaken your defense and may influence the jury's perception of your case. Prosecutors often argue that refusal indicates a consciousness of guilt, thereby potentially increasing the likelihood of a conviction. 

Courts may impose harsher penalties during sentencing if you are convicted of DWI after refusing a breath test. Enhanced sentences can include lengthier jail time, higher fines, extended probation periods, and mandatory participation in substance abuse programs.  

The rationale is that refusal to comply with testing demonstrates a lack of cooperation with law enforcement, warranting more severe punitive measures. Such penalties can have long-term implications on your criminal record, affecting future employment opportunities, insurance rates, and overall reputation.

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Steps to Take After Refusing a Breath Test

Upon refusal to comply, you will receive a "Notice of Suspension" from the officer. This document informs you of the impending suspension of your driving privileges and serves as a temporary permit for 15 days. During this period, you are allowed to drive legally while you prepare your appeal, if you choose to contest the suspension.  

  • File an appeal: You have exactly 15 days from the date of refusal to file a written request for an administrative hearing. This request must be submitted to the appropriate department, often the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), to contest the suspension. It's crucial to provide all necessary documentation and follow the specific submission guidelines to ensure your appeal is accepted. 

  • Preparation for hearing: Once your appeal is filed, you should begin preparing for the administrative hearing. This may involve gathering evidence, such as witness statements, medical records, or any other documentation that can support your case. Consulting with a legal professional experienced in administrative law can be highly beneficial during this stage. 

  • Hearing decision: During the hearing, an administrative judge will review the evidence presented by both you and the officer who issued the Notice of Suspension. The judge will consider factors such as the circumstances of the refusal and any mitigating evidence you provide. After evaluating all the information, the judge will make a decision on whether the suspension is justified.  

  • If you win: If the judge rules in your favor, the suspension will be lifted, and you can continue driving without any additional penalties. 

  • If you lose: If the judge upholds the suspension, it will go into effect immediately after the 15-day temporary permit period expires. It's important to understand the length and conditions of the suspension, as well as any additional steps you need to take to reinstate your driving privileges once the suspension period is over. 

Defending Against Refusal Penalties

  • Medical conditions: Certain health conditions could impair your ability to perform the breath test accurately. For example: 

  • Asthma: Difficulty in exhaling completely could affect the test results. 

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This condition can reduce lung function and prevent proper test execution. 

  • Recent surgery: Respiratory issues post-surgery may impede your ability to blow into the breathalyzer effectively. 

  • Medications: Some medications might interfere with the test or the accuracy of the results. 

  • Improper procedure: If law enforcement fails to follow proper protocols, the validity of the test can be questioned. Key points include: 

  • Calibration of equipment: Breathalyzers need regular maintenance and calibration to ensure accurate readings. If the device is not calibrated correctly, the results may be faulty. 

  • Training of the officer: The officer administering the test must be properly trained. Lack of adequate training can lead to errors in the testing process. 

  • Observation period: There should be a specified observation period before the test is administered to ensure no mouth alcohol contamination, such as from eating, drinking, or using mouthwash. 

  • Right to counsel: In some jurisdictions, you must be informed of your right to legal counsel before submitting to a breath test. Failure to do so could invalidate the test. 

Understanding these factors can provide a robust defense against refusal penalties. It’s essential to consult with legal counsel to navigate these complexities effectively.

Breath Test Refusal Attorney in Chesterfield, Missouri

If you have refused a breath test and are being charged with a DWI, contact my firm, Walker Law LLC, for dependable legal guidance. I will analyze your case and provide a comprehensive approach that suits your needs. Schedule a free consultation at my office in Chesterfield, Missouri, today to learn more.