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Under Ohio implied consent laws, if you are arrested with probable cause for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (or another controlled substance), you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). This means that when you are arrested for a DUI or an OVI, you can be required to submit to these BAC tests at a hospital or precinct.
It’s important to note, though, that breathalyzer breath tests in the field aren’t included under implied consent laws. Because breathalyzers have so often proven untrustworthy, the courts no longer require you to consent to such a test, as they are no longer considered a valid enough test under implied consent laws. If you are requested to take a breath test after being arrested, this should be done in a clinical setting under very specific conditions.
Although Ohio implied consent laws make it illegal to refuse to take chemical test after being arrested, some people do refuse. While violating implied consent laws are a misdemeanor, not a felony, you can still be fined and possibly even briefly incarcerated.
In addition, you will face an administrative license suspension. This means that regardless of whether or not you are ultimately convicted of a DUI, you can lose your license for a year if this is your first refusal. If this is your second refusal in six years, you lose your license for two years, and you’ll lose your driving privileges for three years after your third refusal. After your fourth or subsequent refusal, your license is revoked for five years. These times are only guidelines, as the suspension can be lengthened if you have ever been actually convicted of an OVI. Additionally, you face fees for refusal, as you must pay a $475 fine to get your license returned after the suspension ends.
With such strict punishments after refusing an OVI test, most people recognize that it isn’t worth refusing. For some people, though, it is still tempting to refuse the test in hopes of avoiding an OVI conviction. Unfortunately, refusing a blood, breath, or urine test will not guarantee that you won’t be convicted. The prosecution can still build a case against you using other evidence, such as your behavior after the arrest, erratic driving, physical symptoms of intoxication, etc. Plus, the prosecution often uses the refusal of a chemical test as evidence that you knew you wouldn’t pass.
You do generally have the right to refuse if you so wish, but be aware of the potential consequences of either choice. Sadly, it rarely helps to refuse a test. Under certain circumstances, you won’t even be given a choice, as an officer can use reasonable force to force you to consent (such as restraining your arms while a nurse takes blood).
Ultimately, the decision to submit to a chemical test or not is a personal one, but know you face serious consequences either way. That’s why you should consult a DUI lawyer right away in order to build a strong defense—for the refusal and the OVI. If you are arrested for an OVI, call the Columbus OVI lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates for a free legal consultation on your case at today. As experienced OVI lawyers, we will fight for your rights every step of the way.