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Should You Refuse a Chemical Test at a DUI Stop?

The unimaginable has happened. You've gone to a friend's party and had a few drinks. You feel fine and sober enough to take the drive home. However, on your way to your residence, you're pulled over.

Although you don't feel drunk, how can you ever be 100 percent sure? As the police officer makes his way to your vehicle, one question you may ask yourself: should I refuse to take a sobriety test?

Legal Limits in North Dakota

In North Dakota, it is against the law to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08. For commercial drivers, the legal limit in North Dakota drops to .04. For drivers with BAC of .16 or lower, penalties include a $500 fine and 91-day license suspension. Fines, imprisonment, and suspensions increase if your BAC is above .16. Penalties are harsher for subsequent DUI offenses. More severe consequences are also applied in cases of minors involved and if injuries occurred.

Implied Consent Law

In North Dakota, there is an "implied consent" law. Legally, you face some hurdles if you refuse to cooperate at a suspected DUI traffic stop. A police officer can request you take a breath test at the scene-even if you're not showing obvious signs of driving impaired. Refusing a breath test in North Dakota is implying consent. In some cases, the penalties for refusing a breath test are more severe than DUI charges. North Dakota's penalty for chemical test refusal is license suspension for three months to three years.

Penalties won't increase if you refuse multiple times at the scene to take a chemical test. You also can't be forced to submit a chemical test-except in cases of accidents with serious injuries or fatalities. If you lost consciousness during an accident, your consent is not required either.

Blood Test Laws in North Dakota

A recent Supreme Court decision has now changed the laws regarding blood test refusal at DUI stops in North Dakota. Under new legislation, it was ruled that although breath tests don't interfere with civil rights at a traffic stop, blood tests do. Implied consent law penalties don't apply if a driver refuses a blood test prior to a DUI arrest. Police require a warrant before a blood test can be performed. However, a crucial piece of advice: an arrest can be made on breath test and field sobriety test findings.

DUI Convictions and Test Refusal

Refusal to submit to chemical tests to measure your blood alcohol levels doesn't necessarily mean you won't face a DUI conviction. In fact, prosecutors may use your refusal as ammunition against you. However, if you have past DUI convictions, you may decide the penalties for refusing to take a chemical test is less severe.

When facing DUI or implied consent charges, always consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice. An attorney can let you know specific state laws and how they apply to your case.

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