Breathalyzer Test

Under Ohio law, you have the right to refuse any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. However, it is important to know what happens if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in Ohio. The penalties for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test are stiff and can include a year-long suspension of your driver’s license for the first offense.

What Are the Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer?

When Ohio police stop you for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (OVI), they will assess the situation, explain why they stopped you, and ask if you have been drinking or using drugs. They may ask you to participate in field sobriety tests (e.g., the one-legged stand test, the walk-and-turn, etc.). There is no penalty for refusing to take part in these tests.

If they believe you are drunk, they will inform you that you are under arrest for an OVI. At this point, this is a circumstantial OVI since there is no concrete evidence you are over the legal limit. Circumstantial evidence, even when it is police testimony, is generally easier to beat in court than direct evidence.

Naturally, they will next ask to conduct tests to measure your BAC. They want to collect any direct evidence available. If you fail — or refuse — this test, they will immediately take your driver’s license under the state’s Administrative License Suspension (ALS) rules.

You have a short time to appeal this administrative suspension; once it goes into effect it lasts for a full year. This is significantly longer than if you face an OVI conviction after failing a breath screening. A first offense OVI arrest only calls for a 90-day administrative driver’s license suspension. If you receive a conviction, the license suspension lengthens to at least six months.

You may still face OVI charges if you refuse the breath test. However, it is more difficult for the prosecution to prove its case against you.

If you have a prior OVI conviction within the past 20 years and you refuse a breath test, the penalties could include up to six days in county jail. Alternatively, the judge could sentence you to three days in jail and an additional three days in a mandatory, court-approved Driver Intervention Program. This is a 72-hour drug and alcohol treatment program that provides information and support pertaining to drug and alcohol use.

Appealing the ALS and/or Getting Limited Driving Privileges in Ohio

You have the right to appeal your ALS, but you only have a short time to act. If you want us to help you through this process, give us a call as soon as possible after your arrest. We can request an appeals hearing on your behalf and present any available evidence to demonstrate why you do not deserve this suspension.

However, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles often upholds suspensions for refusal to take a breathalyzer test. If we cannot convince the Administrative Law Judge to drop your ALS, we will help you apply for limited driving privileges (LDPs). You are eligible for LDPs after serving 30 days of your suspension.

LDPs allow you to drive to school, work, doctor’s appointments, court, and other necessary trips. We can help you make your case for LDPs.

Fighting the OVI Charge

Even if you receive LDPs, you still face the possibility of another suspension if the court finds you guilty of an OVI. When we accept your case, we launch a full investigation into exactly what happened before, during, and after your arrest.

Sometimes, this investigation uncovers evidence that the police officer did not have legal grounds to arrest you. Often this occurs because they pulled you over without reason. They cannot legally make a traffic stop unless they see you breaking a traffic law or another statute.

At other times, we find issues with the way they handled your arrest, or even the breath test machines themselves. If you do decide to offer a breath sample, Ohio law requires a state certified officer or other person to use a state certified machine that has proper calibration. If they fail to do so, we will argue the results should be thrown out.

An Ohio OVI charge is a serious offense, with serious consequences. It can affect your education, your work, being able to provide for your family, and even your personal relationships. Let us go to work for you, protecting your rights and defending you against these allegations.

Are you or someone you know facing DUI / OVI charges? 

If you are facing DUI charges, you need to speak with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams is recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, The Best Lawyers in America, National Trial Lawyers Top 100, and is one of U.S. News' Best Law Firms.  Please contact us online or call our Cincinnati office directly at 513-929-9333 to schedule your free consultation. 

Steven R. Adams
Steven R. Adams was a criminal defense lawyer dedicated to DUI, OVI, and criminal defense in Cincinnati, Ohio.