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Facing a DUI charge in Indiana can be an overwhelming experience, especially when faced with the dilemma of whether or not to refuse a breath test. Understanding the legal intricacies involved, such as implied consent, is crucial to knowing the possible consequences of refusals. Through this blog, we will break down the Indiana statutes relating to implied consent and breath test refusals, the impact on your driving privileges, and the importance of hiring an Indiana DUI attorney.

Understanding Implied Consent

Under Indiana law, when you operate a vehicle, your consent to undergo chemical testing if an officer suspects you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol is implied. Indiana Code §§ 9-30-6-1 and 9-30-7-2, both outline this:

  • 9-30-6-1: “A person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provisions of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana.”
  • 9-30-7-2: “A person who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the portable breath test or chemical test under this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana. A person must submit to each portable breath test or chemical test offered by a law enforcement officer under this chapter to comply with this chapter.”

Because Indiana is an implied consent state, refusing a blood or breath test triggers significant legal consequences.

The Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer

Refusing to submit to a breath test results in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges. First-time refusals result in a one-year suspension, while subsequent refusals extend the suspension period to two years. Indiana Code § 9-30-7-5 outlines the refusal consequences:

(a) “A person who refuses to submit to a portable breath test or chemical test offered under this chapter commits a Class C infraction. However, the person commits a Class A infraction if the person has at least one (1) previous conviction for operating while intoxicated.

(b) In addition to any other penalty imposed, the court shall suspend the person’s driving privileges:

          (1) for one (1) year; or

          (2) if the person has at least one (1) previous conviction for operating while intoxicated, for two (2) years.

(c) During the three (3) years following the termination of the suspension, the person’s driving privileges remain suspended until the person provides proof of future financial responsibility in force under IC 9-25.”

Additional Legal Considerations

Refusing a chemical test, whether breath or blood, not only affects your immediate driving privileges, but also affects the legal proceedings. When you refuse a chemical test, your refusal itself becomes part of the evidence the State can use. Indiana Code § 9-30-6-3 states:

(a) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a person committed an offense under IC 9-30-5, the person may be arrested. However, if the chemical test results in prima facie evidence that the person is intoxicated, the person shall be arrested for an offense under this chapter, IC 9-30-5, or IC 9-30-9

(b) At any proceeding under this chapter, IC 9-30-5, or IC 9-30-9, a person’s refusal to submit to a chemical test is admissible into evidence.

While it may initially appear that refusing to submit to a test would be a good strategy to evade DUI charges, it quickly becomes a catch-22. Under Indiana law, a refusal not only has an immediate impact on your driving privileges, but also a lasting impact on the legal proceedings and your case.

The Bottom Line

Refusing the breath test or blood test offered by a law enforcement officer will have a devastating impact on both a person’s ability to drive and their DUI case. A refusal of the chemical test results in a mandatory one or two year drivers license suspension. A refusal of the chemical test typically results in a warrant being obtained to get the person’s blood. And the fact that a person refused the chemical test is allowed in as evidence at trial.  All three of these things do not help a person charged with DUI.  

Why Legal Representation Matters

Facing a DUI charge in Indiana, especially when accompanied by a refusal, is a complex issue that requires skilled legal representation. An Indiana DUI attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and formulate a defense strategy best suited to your unique circumstances.

Don’t Delay, Reach Out Today

Refusing a breathalyzer test in Indiana can lead to significant legal consequences and having an Indiana DUI attorney by your side is essential. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge and refused a breath test, all hope is not lost. 

At the Marc Lopez Law Firm, we deal with DUI cases every day. Our criminal defense attorneys are well versed in the laws surrounding DUI charges and the legal nuances that arise with refusals. We are committed to providing you with the best defense possible, tailored to your unique situation. Let us be your trusted partner, ensuring that your rights are protected. Don’t leave your future to chance. Call the Marc Lopez Law Firm at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!

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