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Potential consequences of refusing a breath test

Many drivers are aware that they may be able to refuse a breath test in Massachusetts. While this may help them to avoid a drunk driver charge, it is not without consequences. According to Mass.gov, if a police officer suspects a driver of operating a vehicle under the influence, the officer may ask the driver to take a breath test.

If the driver refuses to consent to this, then the arresting officer may take immediate action in the following ways. They may decide to impound the vehicle for 12 hours. If the driver’s license or learning permit is issued by the Commonwealth, they may confiscate it. They may provide a written notice explaining that the driver’s license is immediately revoked or suspended. They also have 24 hours to inform the Registry of Motor Vehicles of the suspension.

Mass.gov also states that after refusing to take a chemical test, drivers have until 15 days of the initial refusal to take advantage of a hearing. These hearings only take place between 9am and 3pm at the Boston (Haymarket) Service Center.

There is no need to make an appointment as it takes cases on a walk-in basis. Even so, drivers need to prepare. They may need documents, witnesses and any other evidence that may help the case. The driver may challenge three specific issues at the hearing:

  •          Whether or not the police officer had reasonable grounds to suspect an OUI
  •          Refusing the chemical test
  •          Being placed under arrest

If the driver is a junior operator, applying for a hearing may be futile. Suspensions or revocations are mandatory and therefore may not be altered or appealed by the RMV. However, juniors may be able to challenge the case if they believe there was an error.

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