Can You Go to Jail for Refusing to Take a PBT?

March 20,2018

On September 1st, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments challenging a Florida law that punishes drunk-driving suspects who refuse to take a preliminary breath test (“PBT”), which measures the alcohol content in a person’s body [1]. The Court will decide whether states can impose criminal penalties on suspected drunk drivers who refuse to take a PBT. William Williams, the Plaintiff in the case before the Florida Supreme Court, has contended that such laws are unconstitutional unless police get a warrant for the PBT [1].

In June, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court said that a similar Minnesota law did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches and seizures. Justice Samuel Alito said in his opinion that “[the] impact of breath tests on privacy is slight, and the need for BAC [bodily alcohol content] testing is great [1]”. In Florida, a driver with previous license suspensions for refusing to take a PBT faces misdemeanor charges [1].

In Michigan, refusing to take a PBT may lead to a civil infraction, which carries a fine of up to $150 plus court costs [2]. Whether a person refuses to take the PBT or not, they must still take the chemical test required by the implied consent law [2].

Under the Michigan Implied Consent Law, if you are arrested for drunk or drugged driving, you are required to take a chemical test to determine your BAC or the presence of drugs in your body. By virtue of using the state’s roads, all drivers in Michigan give their consent to this test. Refusing to take the chemical test results in driver’s license consequences separate from any other driving related conviction [2].

Stay tuned to Rights First Law for more on this and other legal news.

Rights First Law is a law firm working in criminal defense and appeals, family law and civil and commercial litigation. Rights First Law has offices in San Diego and Metro Detroit where we emphasize client-centered lawyering by putting clients, and their rights, first. Our clients know at Rights First Law we work with you to protect your rights.