This is actually old news, but I’ve started seeing some of these lately so it’s relevant. Back in September the legislature passed a new law affecting DWI’s, for enhancement purposes. As things were, all regular DWI first offenses were class B misdemeanors, which carried a maximum punishment of 180 days in jail and up to a $2000 fine. In their wisdom, the legislature decided that if a DWI breath test is done (or blood) and the result is .15 or over, the charge will now be a class A misdemeanor, which doubles the max penalties from a class B. So your new exposure is a year in jail and $4000 fine.
So I guess the question is, what are they trying to train us to do? Obviously it sounds like the intent was to prevent people from driving while heavily intoxicated (twice the limit and over). In my practice, those people are typically experienced drinkers whose tolerance allows them to function, like someone in the service industry. Alternatively, they are often inexperienced drinkers who had no intention of getting as inebriated as they did. While young or inexperienced drinkers may not know what to do when asked for a dwi breath sample, by and large the experienced ones have a clue, and they’re not blowing in the machine.
Oddly enough, every time police are consulted about dwi stops, they insist that drivers give a breath sample. They want you to believe that if you just blow into the machine and it comes up below .08 that you somehow get a free pass. Do you actually believe that nonsense? Do you think there’s a reason that every time a politician, or officer, or judge gets pulled over, they refuse to give a breath sample? It’s because they don’t ask you to give a sample until after you’re cuffed and in the back of the police car. At that point, do you really think they’re going to release you if you blow .07? After they’ve had you standing on one leg and doing the walk-and-turn test on video? No. They already have the evidence they need, and all the breath test accomplishes is to give the jury something else to look at if they’re not quite sure.
So what bad thing happens when you refuse to give a breath sample? Your driver’s license gets suspended for 180 days instead of 90. That’s it. Shaking in your boots, right? And you can get an Occupational Driver’s License to cover the suspension, so it’s not truly a hard suspension at all. Guess that’ll teach you. It’s always a bad idea to drive under the influence, but if you’ve had anything to drink and are behind the wheel, remember- when asked for a breath sample (or blood) refuse, refuse, refuse!!