In all states, a driver can refuse to take a breathalyzer test, but refusal will result in some form of punishment due to ‘implied consent’ laws. With such laws, a licensed driver automatically consents to a future breathalyzer or similar test used to determine blood alcohol concentration when they earn the privilege to drive in a given state.
If the person pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence is conscious, coherent and able to provide consent, the officer may offer that person a breathalyzer test and if so, must also inform them of their right to refuse it.
Penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test vary depending on the state and local jurisdiction. Typically, they involve fines of approximately $500, immediate driver’s license suspension (generally 6 months), and other possible costs such as an increase in car insurance fees. In addition, refusing a breathalyzer test won’t spare a driver from a DUI. Other evidence, such as the officer’s observations and other field sobriety test results, may be used against the driver.
The Bottom Line: If you are trying to beat a breathalyzer or avoid a DUI conviction, the only way to go is to monitor your alcohol consumption with a personal breathalyzer, and to simply not drink and drive.