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Should you decline a breath test during an Ohio traffic stop?

As soon as you see those red and blue lights flashing behind your vehicle, you will probably start to worry about what this traffic stop will mean for your life. A traffic stop can mean traffic tickets or even an arrest, which could lead to additional insurance costs or possibly risk to your employment.

If an Ohio police officer suspects you of drunk driving, they may ask you to perform a chemical breath test during the traffic stop. The results of that breath test could potentially lead to the officer arresting you and might prove to be significant evidence against you in court.

Should you decline to take a chemical breath test when an officer asks you to perform one?

State law requires that you perform a breath test

People often don’t understand their rights and the law. For example, some people think that their right to avoid self-incrimination means that they can refuse a breath test. Despite that belief, the protections they think apply actually primarily impact their rights when in court.

If you tell the officer that you do not want to perform these chemical tests that they requested, they will likely advise you that state law requires you to perform the test. Under Ohio’s implied consent law, anyone operating a motor vehicle on public roads has already given their consent to chemical testing.

If you refuse to perform a chemical breath test when are police officer has probable cause to request one, they can arrest you right then for violating the implied consent law. You could face penalties for refusing to take the test, including the suspension of your license. 

Refusing the test could help your defense

If you take and fail a chemical breath test, you need to find a way to challenge the test results, the traffic stop or other conduct by the police officer. When the state does not have chemical evidence against you, you may find it easier to defend against appending drunk driving charges because you only have to call into question the officer’s analysis of your behavior rather than chemical test results.

Knowing the rules that influence impaired driving cases in Ohio can help you make better decisions during a traffic stop.