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Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer in Iowa?

In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08 percent. If you are pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may ask to conduct a field sobriety or chemical test. Are you legally required to take this test? Our Des Moine DUI defense attorneys explain what your legal options are so that you know how to react if you are ever in a similar situation.

Iowa’s Consent to Chemical Testing Law

In Iowa, if you are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving, the law assumes that you have given implied consent to let the officer administer a chemical test either on-site or back at the police station. A chemical test can include breath, urine, or blood. Typically, an officer will administer a breathalyzer test on-site.

At any point after being pulled over, you have the right to refuse chemical testing. The officer legally cannot perform the test if you rescind your consent to testing. While you can refuse to take the chemical test, there are legal repercussions if you do.

Refusing a Chemical Test

Although you can refuse a field breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean you are completely protected from further testing at the police station. However, it does prevent the officer from gaining evidence against you.

Breathalyzer tests are not as accurate as a blood or urine test, which are performed at the police station. If you refuse to take the test for a second time, the charges against you will be more severe. In most cases, your license will be revoked for many years.

When you refuse to perform a preliminary breathalyzer at the location where you were pulled over, the officer must legally inform you of what the legal consequences are for doing so.

Consequences of refusing a chemical or field sobriety test include:

  • Your refusal is admissible evidence in court and can be used against you
  • Your license will be revoked for one year and you cannot receive a temporary license for at least 90 days if this is your first offense

After you have been informed of the legal repercussions, you can reconsider your decision. If you choose to refuse, you may be arrested and charged with an OWI (operating while intoxicated) and any other appropriate charges. OWI charges may require you to pay civil fees, go through rehabilitation treatment, probation, or pay fees for towing your vehicle.

Should You Refuse a Breathalyzer?

It is important to weigh these consequences against the consequences of failing a field sobriety test. Refusing is your right, but it could demonstrate stubbornness to a court, incur heavier fines, take longer to restore your driving privileges and take longer to recover from financially. Knowing your legal rights today could help you make an informed decision tomorrow.

If you have been charged for a drunk driving case, please contact Hope Law Firm today at (515) 298-5056 to discuss your options.