When you’re issued a driver’s license, it’s expected that you will obey the rules of the road. This includes heeding traffic signals and never driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Because the expectation is that you will follow the law when you’re behind the wheel, the expectation is that you will also consent to a blood or breath test if you’re suspected of driving under the influence. This concept is known as implied consent. If you refuse a blood or breath test, you will face civil penalties.

Does implied consent apply to field sobriety tests?

People are often confused about whether implied consent laws apply to field sobriety tests and preliminary breath tests (PBTs). The short answer is “no.” You are under no obligation to submit to field sobriety tests or to perform a PBT. However, a police officer can still place you under arrest if they suspect you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When you’ve been arrested, you will be taken to the police station. You will be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test or a blood draw. If you refuse either of these, the implied consent law will come into play, and you will face civil penalties.

What happens if you refuse a blood or breath test?

If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the police cannot proceed. However, as noted above, you will be subject to an array of civil penalties, including:

  • The installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • The suspension of your driver’s license for at least one year
  • A minimum driver’s license restoration fee of $500

Even if you’re acquitted of any subsequent criminal charges, you will still have to face civil penalties for a test refusal. You should discuss your legal options with a skilled professional. Defenses are available, and it may be possible to preserve your driving privileges.