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What should I consider before taking or refusing a breath test?

What should I consider before taking or refusing a breath test?

Today is the busiest travel day of the year, and with good reason. Thanksgiving is a short holiday with little time off of work, yet most of us can’t imagine spending Thanksgiving without our families. As such, we rush to make the trip in time.

Because Thanksgiving often includes alcoholic drinks (at home or at a bar catching up with friends), there will likely be more law enforcement officers out on West Virginia roads over the next couple days. This includes increased DUI patrols here in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties.

In today’s post, we’ll discuss a frequently asked legal question that will be especially relevant this week: Should you submit to a breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol test if an officer asks you to?

Unfortunately, this is a question that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Rather, it has to be a personal choice you make after learning the potential benefits and consequences of both actions.

If you agree to take the test, you obviously run the risk of demonstrating that you are at or above the legal blood-alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 percent. If the test results hold up in court, you can be convicted of DUI under the state’s “per se” laws. This means that the test results can show that you were legally intoxicated and no other evidence is needed to bolster the case.

That being said, you may have limited your alcohol intake and feel fairly confident that you could pass a breath-alcohol test. In that case, you may decide you want to take the test. To be clear, you could still be charged with impaired driving (depending on what driving behaviors the officer witnessed), but a drunk driving conviction would be more difficult to obtain.

It is within your legal rights to refuse to take the test. If you are fairly confident that you are at or above 0.08 percent BAC, refusing the test could help your criminal case and could even prevent the DUI charge from going on your record.

The consequences of refusing a test, however, are significant. Test refusal will result in a one-year driver’s license suspension by the West Virginia DMV. Obviously, that is no small punishment, particularly if you rely on your license to either do your work or to get you to and from work.

In the end, the choice has to be yours and yours alone. If you find yourself facing criminal charges for DUI, however, you should seek experienced legal help as soon as possible.

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