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Does my refusal to take a breathalyzer have to come up in court?

In 2017, the Massachusetts State Supreme Court made a landmark decision. It removed a rule that for 15 years had dictated if juries should be informed by a judge of a suspects’ refusal to submit to a breath test.

According to NBC Boston 10, the 4-3 ruling now puts that decision in the hands of the defendant. This means you may be under no obligation to disclose that you refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, especially if you believe it may negatively impact your case.

The decision stemmed from a 2015 case where the defendant was pulled over on suspicion of OUI but refused to take the sobriety test. During the trial, the judge told the jury that the suspect’s refusal to take the test did not provide any evidence of what the suspect’s blood-alcohol level truly was. Even so, the suspect was convicted. However, the SJC ruling did lead to the conviction being vacated.

The judges were clear that the ruling would not be applied retroactively. As a result, this is only relevant for cases tried after the ruling date. It is also well to note that though you may refuse to take a breathalyzer test, officers may still request that you submit to other types of sobriety tests. Failure to pass these tests may reflect poorly on your case during the time of your trial.

The consequences of drunk driving can range from property damage to injury to death. Because of this, Americans inside and outside the courtroom may have little sympathy, if any, for drivers who get behind the wheel after a drink too many.

This article provides information on the refusal of breathalyzer test and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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