The state considers driving a privilege, not a right. One of the rules on the books that really encompasses this thought is the state’s implied consent law. This law states in relevant part that a person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provisions of this chapter as a condition of operating a motor vehicle.
Practically speaking, this means that if any law enforcement officer has the requisite probable cause that a driver is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, that police officer will have the authority to stop the driver and request a specimen of the driver’s breath. This test can could also be a request for blood rather than breath if the officer believes drugs are the cause of the intoxication..
The Mechanics of the Test
There are rules that law enforcement officers are supposed to follow when administering these tests. Failure to follow those protocols may result in the results being thrown out. For example, any test has to be given within a reasonable time after the officer has probable cause. Tests administered too late may very well be suppressed at trial, if it comes to that.
The officer should also inform the driver that a refusal to take a sobriety field test will likely result in the suspension of driving privileges, as this is a technically an administrative matter. Although the driver would be entitled to a hearing, the hearing actually isn’t much more than a rubber stamp if the officers actually participate.
Ultimately, however, outright refusal to take a chemical test can have significant consequences for individuals that need to be able to drive in order to get to work, to transport children to get school, etc.
Options for Losing Your License to a Refusal
One of the things the Judge can order of the affected driver is to order that an interlock device be placed on their vehicle. An interlock device can be installed and acts like a mobile Breathalyzer. The equipment is pre-set to a certain blood alcohol content value and before the car’s ignition will start, the operator will have to give a breath sample. If that sample is greater than the pre-set value, then the vehicle will not start. This is often done as a condition of bond.
These devices record all the data and transmit regular reports to the court. The judge will then examine the report prior to any follow up hearings.
Another option is to petition the court for what a hardship license. These restrictive licenses are granted at the discretion of the court. Although the law is very clear that for first time offenders the Judge has NO discretion to not approve an occupational (restricted use) license. There are various filing requirements and fees associated with making these types of requests. As such, it is important that affected drivers seek professional legal representation to make sure they have met all those requirements prior to filing.
License Reinstatement after Refusal Suspension
In some cases, suspension is inevitable after an arrest for DWI. After an affected driver’s license has been suspended, there are certain steps that must be taken in order to get driving privileges reinstated. Some of these steps may involve having to get “points” removed, pay fines, or surcharges. Affected drivers need to ensure they are following all of the correct steps. Getting a driver’s license always poses a difficult situation, but it does not have to mean permanent loss of driving ability.
For help with these and related DWI issues, contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today. Our team has the experience, training, and advocacy you need to protect your rights and get your life back on track.