How Breathalyzer Refusal Is Handled In New York

In the state of New York, refusal of a DUI breathalyzer test presents two possible problems for a driver, including criminal and civil. On the criminal side, a driver refusing to submit to a DUI breathalyzer test, or any other chemical test used to detect the level and presence of drugs or alcohol while driving, can have this evidence used against them during any ensuing criminal trial, known as consciousness of guilt evidence. This law, specific to the state of New York, will vary from those in other states, and is an integral part of the state of New York implied consent laws.

On a civil or administrative level, a driver also faces penalties entirely independent of the criminal system. These penalties are administered by an Administrative Law Judge with the DMV in the state of New York. Civil sanctions stemming from a refusal to submit, first offense impose penalties of one (1) year suspension of license, fines of $500, and driver responsibility assessment fines of $250 for three (3) years following a refusal to submit. Persons held responsible in the administrative civil system for repeat refusal to submit offenses (more than one (1) refusal to submit in the past five (5) years, or a conviction of certain alcohol, drug, and driving related criminal offenses within five (5) years,  face harsher penalties, including mandatory license revocation of eighteen (18) months, as well increase fines and other fees. Furthermore, license reinstatement following a second or subsequent refusal to submit entails evidence of alcohol counseling or rehabilitation before reinstatement of license occurs.

Contesting Refusal to Submit to Chemical Tests in New York

If a driver elects to refuse a chemical test at the scene or at the police station, the driver’s refusal will be passed along to a DMV Administrative Law Judge. If uncontested, this report will result in the aforementioned administrative penalties, regardless of the outcome of criminal proceedings related to a case. However, drivers are afforded the opportunity to a Due Process Hearing in front of the DMV Administrative Law Judge, which must occur no later than ten (10) days following refusal to submit. At the hearing, a driver can contest the impending penalties related to a refusal to submit.

Getting Legal Help with New York Breathalyzer Refusal Laws

In practice, the only way a driver can effectively contest a refusal to submit offense with the DMV administrative courts is through the representation and counsel of a lawyer. This action will only address the administrative penalties related to a refusal to submit, and in turn, a driver must still address outstanding criminal proceedings related to his or her driving under the influence charges as well. Consult with a drunk driving defense lawyer in New York to learn more about how an attorney can help drivers defend both these offenses, in light of the applicable laws and administrative procedures in the state of New York, as well as the highly case-specific nature of each driver’s arrest.  

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