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Should You Refuse to Take a Preliminary Breath or Chemical Test in Michigan?

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Under Michigan law, you have the right to refuse to take a preliminary breath and/or chemical test if you are being investigated for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse to take a preliminary breath test, you will receive a civil infraction ticket. However, if you refuse to take a chemical test (such as breath, urine, or blood), your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year unless you can show good cause for the refusal. Read on to learn more.

Preliminary Breath & Chemical Tests Refusal

When a police officer pulls you over under the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, he/she will usually ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests prior to administering a preliminary breath test. The police officer will collect evidence regarding your coordination during the field sobriety tests prior to requesting a preliminary breath test.

Field sobriety tests consist of a series of physical and mental exercises that are used to determine whether or not you are intoxicated. For instance, a police officer may request that you walk in a straight line while looking forward and counting. Typically, there are three standardized field sobriety tests that may be administered: 1) The walk-and-turn test; 2) The one-leg stand test; and 3) The horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

If your field sobriety test results show that you may be under the influence of alcohol, then the police officer will ask to perform a preliminary breath test. The preliminary breath test is used to determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving. The officer may rely on the results of the preliminary breath test alone to determine there is probable cause for arrest.

If the officer determines there is probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving, you will be asked to take a chemical test (such as breath, urine or blood). Under Michigan's implied consent law, if you refuse to take this chemical test, your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year unless you can demonstrate good cause for the refusal.

Upon refusal of the chemical test, your driver's license will be confiscated and you will be issued a temporary permit until the Secretary of State orders the one year suspension or your criminal case is resolved, whichever comes first. You can request a Right of Refusal hearing from the Secretary of State to challenge the suspension. You have fourteen days from the time of your arrest to request a hearing. If you fail to make a request, your driver's license will be suspended for one year and six points will be added to your driving record. You will lose your driver's license for two years if you previously refused to take a chemical test within the past seven years.

Due to the subjective nature of field sobriety tests results, people commonly refuse to take them. Nevertheless, if you refuse to take the test, the police officer may be able to use other evidence (such as your driving, speech, behavior, and preliminary breath test results) to establish probable cause to arrest you.


Sources

MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT) Act 300 of 1949

MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT) Act 300 of 1949 257.625f

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