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Breath test refusal causes automatic license suspension

Most Ann Arbor residents know that drunk driving laws in Michigan are very strict. If police suspect that a driver is intoxicated, they may ask the driver to take a breath test. One who refuses to take this test will automatically have their driving license suspended under state law. If police suspect a DUI, they have the right to arrest a driver and to take a blood sample for a chemical test.

Recently, Pittsfield Township police arrested a driver for his involvement in a vehicular crash. Police suspect that the man was driving under the influence. Reportedly, police were called to a local fast-food restaurant after a driver refused to leave the drive-through window. When officers tried to get the driver to pull into a parking space, he suddenly accelerated and struck one of the officers, causing minor injuries. The driver is expected to face criminal charges for hurting the officer.

Police have the authority to arrest drivers if they exhibit signs of impairment while driving. In these cases, police usually ask the driver to take a breath test to determine if the driver is intoxicated. In Michigan, a refusal to take a breath test automatically results in suspension of the driving license for one year. This penalty is for first-time offenders. If a driver refuses to take a breath test a second time within a seven-year period, the automatic suspension will be for two years.

Drivers should understand that this license suspension is administrative in nature and immediately takes effect after a breath test refusal. However, its propriety can be questioned in a court on various grounds. If the traffic stop was unlawful, that may be a good basis to challenge the license suspension. If the driver does not have any DWI arrest or conviction history, the fact may prove helpful in restoring the driving privileges.

If a driver is convicted of a charge of drunk driving, the court may suspend the license of the accused on conviction. The duration of the suspension may vary considerably depending upon the severity of the charges. People who are facing possible license revocation should assert a strong legal defense to ensure protection of their legal rights.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Car barrels through Burger King drive-through, injuring cop in Pittsfield Township," Ann Zaniewski, Feb. 14, 2013

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