When an officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, you will likely face one or two different types of blood alcohol content (BAC) tests. This will often include breath analysis tests, which may seem invasive.
Due to the invasive nature of these tests, you may feel that you have a right of refusal. But thanks to the implied consent laws that govern the road, this is not the case.
What is implied consent?
Cornell Law School discusses implied consent laws and their use in maintaining driver safety. In general, an implied consent law governs any situation in which a reasonable person could assume that someone gave their consent to something, even without giving that consent in writing or in speech.
As an example, you typically do not have to sign waivers or give verbal consent to get a flu shot. The act of scheduling the shot and allowing a doctor to administer it is proof of implied consent.
Implied consent and driving
When it comes to driving, an implied consent law exists across all public roads to help maintain road safety. This law implies that if you use a public road – of which the vast majority of roads are – then you give your consent to BAC tests if an officer requests them. This helps maintain the level of safety across the roads.
An officer cannot physically force you to take this test, of course. However, they have a legal obligation to alert you to the potential penalties you may face for refusal, such as a loss of license for up to a year. On a whole, these penalties make refusing a BAC test impractical at best.