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Challenging Test Refusals

Attorney for DUI Arrest and Chemical Test Refusal in Northwest Indiana

If you get pulled over for OWI (DUI) and refuse the officer’s request to submit to a breath or blood test (also known as a chemical test) to determine the level of alcohol or other intoxicants in your blood, then your license may be suspended no later than your initial hearing. The license suspension may range from one (1) to two (2) years based on your criminal history. By refusing a chemical test, you open yourself up to a Class C or Class A infraction on top of your OWI/DUI charge. You might have just made your problems even worse.

However, an allegation of breath or blood test can and should be challenged for numerous reasons, ranging from lack of probable cause to medical conditions of the test taker. It is vital to investigate whether the alleged test refusal was proper due to the consequences of a chemical test refusal under Indiana law.

The skilled attorneys at Stracci Law Group have successfully challenged breath and blood tests regularly in Porter and Lake County. If you have been arrested for DUI (OWI) and are alleged to refuse a breath and blood test, contact the attorneys at Stracci Law Group by calling (219) 525-1000 or contacting us online. We serve clients from all over Northwest, Indiana, including Crown Point, Gary, and Portage.

The Indiana Implied Consent Law And DUI

Indiana has enacted an implied consent law that requires you to submit to a chemical intoxication (blood or breath test) test when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer, as long as the officer has probable cause to believe you are operating a vehicle while intoxicated. By driving on Indiana public roads, you impliedly consent to submit to such a test. 

You can refuse, of course, however, the officer may obtain a search warrant for a chemical test. Nobody will force you to take the test without obtaining a search warrant unless you were in an accident that caused bodily injury. In that case, your blood will be taken and tested. However, if you refuse to take the test, the state can charge you with an infraction for violating its implied consent law. You can face an additional license suspension that may run consecutively to any potential conviction for drunk driving.

What Happens When You Refuse a DUI (OWI) Test In Indiana

When you refuse a chemical test, you may experience unintended consequences such as foregoing the opportunity for specialized driving privileges, an additional one (1) year license suspension separate from any penalties imposed if you are convicted of OWI, as well as a separate infraction charge.

Indiana can suspend your driver’s license even before a hearing. You may not be able to drive home after you make bail. Meanwhile, the State may prosecute you on both OWI and implied consent infraction charges. In fact, the prosecutor is entitled to interpret your refusal to submit to a chemical test as evidence that you were intoxicated at the time.

Due to the severe consequences of a chemical test refusal, it is vital that you consult with an attorney to explore whether your chemical test refusal can and should be challenged.

Breath Test Refusal Infraction Charges in Indiana

The progression of penalties for repeated violations of Indiana’s implied consent law depends on the amount, if any, of breath test refusals you have on your BMV driving record. As you may imagine, the consequences of a chemical test refusal are more severe for those who have test refusals on their record. More specifically, the consequences include:

1st offense

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year; and
  • Class C infraction charge

2nd and further offenses

  • Suspension of your driver’s incense for up to two years; and
  • Class A infraction charge

Remember, Indiana will add these fines and license suspensions to any penalties that it imposes as a consequence of an OWI conviction. Suppose you refuse a chemical test after a first offense OWI. Suppose further that Indiana suspends your license for one year for the implied consent violation and six months on the OWI. Your total suspension period will be 18 months. Moreover, you will not even be eligible for a hardship (specialized driving privileges) license as you would be after an OWI alone.

Potential Defenses To Refusing DUI/DWI Test

Several common defenses are available to an implied consent violation. As former prosecutors, our skilled defense attorneys for Indiana DUI cases readily identify which defenses arise from your particular circumstances. Following is a list of the most common defenses:

  • The police lacked probable cause to demand that you submit to a chemical breath test in the first place. This would trigger a right to refuse DUI testing without penalty. The police cannot arbitrarily demand that someone submit to a chemical breath test.
  • The police failed to “read implied consent”
  • You were not fully informed of your rights prior to your refusing a chemical test
  • Due to some misconduct or inadequacy committed by the police. Your failure to understand your rights due to your own intoxication is not a defense, however.
  • Your breathalyzer test refusal was a consequence of a medical condition - a serious lung ailment, for example.
  • You are not a native speaker of English (or whatever language the police officer used to communicate with you). In this case, you could argue that you misunderstood your obligation to submit to a chemical breath test.
  • The police failed to follow the proper policies and procedures for the administration of a chemical test

How Our DUI/DWI Defense Lawyers Can Help

Our experienced Indiana OWI lawyers can help you in two ways. First, we will conduct an investigation and analyze the facts of your case to come up with effective defenses that you can use. Second, we will apply those defenses to negotiations with the State prosecutors, at an evidentiary hearing, or at trial to achieve the best possible result for each individual client.

The knowledgeable attorneys at Stracci Law Group will guide you in the process of reinstatement of your license following a successful defense of an alleged chemical test refusal. Whether you are an Indiana or Illinois resident, Stracci Law Group will assist you in getting back behind the wheel.

Contact a Lawyer at Stracci Law Group to Challenge your Chemical Test Refusal Today

If you have been charged with refusing a chemical test or a breathing test, you are going to need knowledgeable and aggressive legal assistance. Contact the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Stracci Law Group by calling (219) 525-1000 or contacting us online. We serve clients from all over Northwest Indiana, including Hammond, Crown Point, Gary, Portage, Merrillville, and Valparaiso.

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What Types of Chemical Test Refusal Cases are Commonly Challenged? When is it Appropriate to Challenge a Chemical Test Failure?

The most common scenarios of chemical test refusal challenges include when an officer lacked probable cause to demand that you submit to a test. You may also refuse if you have a medical condition that prevents you from safely submitting to such a test. Other exemptions might apply as well, such as the police’s failure to follow proper procedures under the Indiana Department of Toxicology standards in administration of a chemical test.

What is the penalty for refusing a field sobriety test in Indiana?

A field sobriety test is not the same as a chemical test. It might involve, for example, walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. There is no penalty for refusing a field sobriety test, but the State prosecutor will argue that a refusal of a standard field sobriety test is an indication of guilt. Typically, the best defense for a standard field test refusal is a medical condition that prevents from properly completing the test. Other challenges to a standard field sobriety test refusal include volatile weather conditions or improper explanation and demonstration of the sobriety tests by the arresting officers.

Can I refuse a blood or urine test for DWI in Indiana?

Yes, you usually can, at least until the officer obtains a search warrant. Nevertheless, Indiana can usually fine you and suspend your driving privileges if you refuse. Moreover, you may be held in contempt of court if you fail to comply with a search warrant for your blood draw.

What if I'm a commercial driver and I refuse DUI testing?

Indiana will immediately suspend your Commercial Driver’s license (CDL) and your right to drive commercial vehicles. To end the suspension, you must successfully complete the return-to-duty process with a DOT-qualified substance abuse professional.