Drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol in Massachusetts will be asked to partake in a series of tests. One of these is a roadside breathalyzer, which measures the amount of alcohol in the system. Some drivers may think that the tests are voluntary and that there is no penalty for refusing them. However, while people have the right to say no, there are penalties involved due to implied consent.
What is implied consent? According to FindLaw, implied consent is legal in all states. It means that when a driver applies for a driver's license, they automatically consent to chemical and field sobriety tests in the case they are pulled over under suspicion. While authorities cannot force a driver to submit to these tests, there are automatic penalties that the driver will face if they choose not to partake in the breathalyzer. The punishment varies from one state to the other, but it usually involves license suspension and possible jail time.
In the state of Massachusetts, Melanie's Law outlines the penalties for refusing the breathalyzer. The Massachusetts Court System states there is an automatic six month license suspension for drivers with no prior DUI offenses. Each additional offense increases the suspension time, and after three or more the license is suspended for life.
While implied consent may seem like a good reason to always submit to the roadside test, there are some instances in which the driver may benefit from denying it. In the case of DUI defense, attorneys often have an advantage in situations where the breathalyzer was refused. However, drivers must weigh this benefit with the penalty of license suspension.