When an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, you may think it is within your rights to refuse any blood alcohol content (BAC) test they may request of you.
But in reality, it is not a request, and you have already consented to taking one. How, and why? And what happens if you attempt to refuse anyway?
Implied consent laws and driving
The National Constitution Center discusses how driving and implied consent laws correlate on the road. Implied consent exists in a situation where an average and reasonable person could safely assume that another party has consented to something, even without having that consent in writing or spoken word. For example, a person who makes an appointment for a flu shot and then allows the doctor to administer the shot is implied to have consented to the procedure.
In terms of driving, implied consent applies to your use of public roads as a driver. Since everyone uses public roads, it is important for law enforcement to keep them safe. In order to do so, they must act quickly against people potentially driving while intoxicated.
BAC tests and implied consent
Thus, by using public roads, you give your consent to BAC tests in the event that an officer suspects you of intoxicated driving. This is essentially the trade-off of using public roads, as it helps to keep all drivers safe.
An officer cannot physically force you to take a BAC test. However, if you refuse, they must alert you to the potential consequences. This can include suspension of your license for up to a year, additional fines and jail time if you end up convicted of a DUI crime, and more.