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Is It Legal to Refuse a DWI Breath Test in New Hampshire?

  • By: MMM
  • Published: May 3, 2022

Is It Legal to Refuse a DWI Breath Test in New Hampshire?

When police officers suspect a driver may be driving while intoxicated (DWI), they may pull them to the side of the road, ask a few questions, and suggest conducting a breath test or field sobriety test. In New Hampshire, law enforcement officers need to be trained to perform DWI stops to prevent the alcohol-impaired driving fatalities that occur each year. However, drivers need to understand their rights while law enforcement seeks to enforce drunk driving laws. 

If you have ever encountered or heard of a situation like this one, you may be wondering about the proper way to respond or handle the situation. Our reliable New Hampshire DWI attorneys at Shepherd & Hayes Law Firm may be able to help you avoid unnecessary criminal charges or license suspensions on your driving record. 

Understanding Implied Consent in New Hampshire 

Drunk driving is hazardous and has resulted in many fatal or catastrophic accidents in recent years. New Hampshire’s drivers are subject to traffic stops when a police officer speculates or observes traffic violations and unlawful behavior. When a driver accepts a driver’s license, they automatically consent to undergo chemical testing if an officer suspects they are under the influence. As permitted by New Hampshire’s implied consent statute, testing is typically conducted via a breathalyzer, blood, or urine.

If a police officer suspects you are under the influence while operating a motor vehicle, there are severe penalties if you are found guilty. Any testing you agree to at a traffic stop and the driver’s statement you make may be held against you as evidence in a courtroom. Understanding your rights and how a lawyer benefits you may help you avoid mistakes that affect your case. 

Is It Unlawful to Refuse a Breathalyzer or Field Sobriety Test?

Any driver stopped in traffic by law enforcement should never forget to keep a calm demeanor and stay cooperative. However, when officers suspect a DWI case, they may initiate field sobriety testing and interview you to confirm their suspicion. Field sobriety tests are typically conducted to test coordination, balance, and reflexes, which will often be challenging to perform if you are impaired with alcohol. 

However, these tests are left to an officer’s subjectivity and can lead to false evidence, which may give them cause for an unlawful arrest. If you refuse or fail any field sobriety testing, they may also suggest using a breathalyzer that measures your blood alcohol level. While you do have a right to refuse these tests and not give any incriminating information under the protection of your fifth amendment rights, there are consequences and penalties to refusing sobriety tests. 

Penalties and Consequences of Refusing a DWI Breath Test

Refusing chemical testing during a DWI traffic stop will lead to penalties with the DMV. If an officer finds a reason to arrest you, it is best to make no statements and request to speak with your New Hampshire DWI attorney. Depending on the number of offenses you have committed, the penalties and consequences for refusing a breath test can vary.

Penalties for refusing the New Hampshire breathalyzer test include:

  • First-time offenders: Automatic 180-day license suspension with the DMV. 
  • Second or subsequent offenders: Carries a two-year license suspension with the DMV. 
  • Refusal while using a probationary license: License suspension of up to 90 to 180 days. 

While it is not illegal to refuse field sobriety tests or a breath test, there are consequences to refusing a breath test. When a driver refuses a breath test, it may lessen the chances of having incriminating evidence against them. Although, a refusal can also be considered incriminating in some cases. Refusing a breathalyzer test does not prove intoxication, and a skilled DWI lawyer may help defend you and protect your rights. 

If a driver does accept to take a breath test, the results are counted as evidence and may be cause for an arrest and DWI charge. Depending on the number of offenses and the state of your current record, this may lead to profound life changes and challenging consequences. With a skilled attorney experienced in DWI cases, you may fight the charges and evidence you are up against. Your attorney may defend you against prosecutors and strategize to lessen foreseeable consequences. 

Learn More With a Free Consultation at Shepherd & Hayes Law Firm 

DWI cases may be difficult to navigate, especially if a driver has multiple offenses or previous run-ins with the law. If you are facing DWI charges, you will have to resolve your charges and consequences in a courtroom and at your local DMV. Refusing breath testing or field sobriety testing may lessen the evidence against you. However, this does not guarantee you will be free of a guilty verdict. 

Hiring a trusted and reliable DUI lawyer improves your chances of defending yourself and avoiding the full impact of the consequences you may encounter. At Shepherd & Hayes Law Firm, our expert lawyers understand DWI cases and are eager to help clients in New Hampshire. You may complete a contact form or call us at (603) 233-1626 to schedule a free consultation to seek expert counsel. 

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