Let's say you and your friends have been hanging out at a party that served alcoholic beverages and you begin to drive everyone home. Along the way, police lights flash in your rearview mirror and a cop pulls you over. Suddenly, you are being asked to perform a sobriety test because you are suspected of intoxicated driving.
Regardless of whether or not you consumed alcohol before driving, your next choice could have large consequences in your life.
What happens if I refuse a test?
New Hampshire and Maine operate under implied consent, which means that, by owning a driver's license, you agree to be subjected to sobriety testing if suspected of driving under the influence. This also means that if you choose to refuse a test, there will be consequences for doing so.
The first time you refuse a test, your license can be revoked for 180 days in New Hampshire and 275 days in Maine. This could greatly hinder your quality of life by making it difficult to get to work, grocery shop or spend the night out with friends. On top of that, refusing a test does not exempt you from a DWI/OUI charge. An officer could still bring charges against you if they have reason to believe you were intoxicated at the time.
A test refusal can even be used as evidence against you. An officer could use it to argue that you knew you were intoxicated and were trying to hide it. DWIs/OUIs also carry harsh penalties, such as fines and a conviction on your criminal record, but you could end up with even more penalties if you refused a test in the first place.
What do I do if I face charges?
It is your decision whether or not you will refuse a test, though refusal will usually not help you and could even hurt you more in the long run. However, being convicted of a DWI/OUI does not necessarily mean you will face the full consequences or be found guilty.
There are many defenses an attorney can use to have your charges dropped, your penalties lessened or possibly even your license reinstated. If you are facing charges, consider a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation and what steps you should take next.