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Can Drivers in Indiana Refuse a Breathalyzer?

Ziliak Law Office April 28, 2021

Indiana refers to drunk driving as OWI or operating while intoxicated, though many states call it DUI. Most all states have stiff penalties for drunk driving to keep the roads safer regardless of what they call it. Officers in Noblesville, IN, frequently check for drunk driving with tests, but drivers may wonder if they can refuse the tests.

OWI BAC Limits and Implied Consent

OWI laws prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle with a BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, of .08% or greater, the legal limit in most states. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04% and the Zero Tolerance Law sets the BAC for minors under 21 at .02%. Drivers may also get charged with OWI if they drive under the influence of certain drugs.

Indiana has implied consent laws, which state anyone who gets license consent to chemical testing. However, an officer needs probable cause or the driver must have been involved in a serious crash to order chemical testing. If an officer has probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated, they have three hours to administer the test. The officer must also read the driver their rights and what happens if they refuse.

Penalties for Refusing Breathalyzers

Officers commonly use a breathalyzer to get a breath sample, but they may order a blood or urine test even for drivers who refuse the breathalyzer. A driver who refuses chemical testing commonly gets their license immediately revoked for one year. The period extends to two years for drivers with a previous OWI charge.

OWI laws allow a driver to apply for special driving privileges, but drivers lose that privilege if they refuse a chemical test. The court does not reinstate driving licenses of drivers who refuse chemical tests, even if the case gets dismissed or the driver is not found guilty.

Drunk driving charges commonly have long-lasting consequences, such as higher insurance rates. However, officers commonly make mistakes and neglect to read rights or administer tests wrong, so a driver needs a strong defense.