One moment of inattention behind the wheel can lead a Massachusetts police officer to believe you are driving under the influence and weaving unsafely. When the officer pulls you over to determine your sobriety, you may be within your rights to be frustrated and angry, but what happens if you act on that frustration and anger by refusing to comply with the officer’s requests? You may be legally allowed to refuse a breathalyzer with penalties, but what if you refuse to identify yourself at all?

This may seem like a way to protest or avoid culpability, but Massachusetts legislature defines this as refusal to submit to a police officer – and it comes with penalties. Different from resisting arrest, refusing to submit to a police officer involves refusing to provide your name, contact information and registration or that of the owner of the vehicle should you be pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving or for any other traffic violation. It also includes refusal to stop, either in a vehicle or on foot, when a police officer who is clearly identified as a police officer signals you to do so.

Your refusal can lead to a $100 fine. If you are the owner of the vehicle police can identify you by running your vehicle’s license plates, making refusal futile. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, you may also rouse suspicion regarding how you came to be in possession of the vehicle, or cause the owner to become the target of police inquiry upon identifying the owner via the vehicle’s license and registration.

Please use this post only as an information reference and not a substitute for qualified legal advice.