It’s a common sight for Omaha residents as they drive down highways and local streets — a driver pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. When police officers approach a detained vehicle, they typically check for signs of impairment and in doing so, may ask the driver to take a breath test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. The question that arises, then, is if drivers must submit to the test and what happens if they do not?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20% of suspected drunk drivers refuse to take a breath test. This refusal, however, is penalized in various ways. Most states impose an automatic six or 12-month driving ban for refusing to take the test and these suspensions may increase based on the number of DUI convictions. It might even result in jail time, depending on the situation and background. If the driver is found guilty of a DUI, then the breath test refusal may carry enhanced penalties.

Many states also have an implied consent law on the books. This means when drivers apply for a driver’s license, they give consent to have their impairment determined by field sobriety tests and chemical tests. When an officer reasonably believes a driver is drunk driving, then the refusal carries penalties.

While many drivers may believe that refusing to submit to a breath test when suspected of drunk driving may help their defense, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, it can result in license suspension while the actual DUI penalties could have been negotiated. Consulting an experienced attorney after getting charged for DUI may be helpful in one’s defense.