Implied Consent Laws in Arizona Explained

What is the penalty for refusing to take a breath test in Arizona?

Most drivers are unaware that at the time they apply for and receive their driver’s license, they have agreed to comply with breath or blood testing if requested by a police officer.  All states currently have some form of implied consent laws on their books.  Refusing to comply with an officer’s requests as to breath or blood testing could have serious penalties, including suspension of your driver’s license.  However, complying with the requested tests could result in a DUI arrest and conviction.  Implied consent laws thus place drivers in a difficult position if they are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. Our Phoenix DUI defense lawyers explain implied consent laws in Arizona and the penalties for refusing chemical testing in the state below.

You Agree to Certain Rules by Driving on Public Roadways

Per implied consent laws in Arizona and elsewhere across the United States, when drivers apply for a driver’s license, they give consent to submit to a breath or blood test when asked by an officer to determine their impairment.  Further, even illegal drivers who have not received or applied for a driver’s license are said to have consented to drunk driving testing by operating a motor vehicle on roads within the state.

Implied consent laws have faced numerous court challenges over the years.  Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court explored the issue of implied consent and blood tests in the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ___ (2016).  The case involved three consolidated criminal cases in which the defendants had been charged with violation of the state’s implied consent laws for refusal to submit to requested breath or blood testing.  The issue before the court was whether warrantless breath and blood testing incident to drunk driving arrests violates the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court held that warrantless breath tests are constitutional as they involve a minimal violation of privacy, but blood tests were held to be more intrusive and thus require a warrant, absent exceptional circumstances.  Implied consent laws were wrapped into the issue, rendering it impermissible for a defendant to face criminal charges for refusing a blood test, but not a breath test.  The court did not, however, address the legality of administrative penalties for refusal to submit to breath or blood tests, making it still lawful for states to suspend a driver’s license for refusal to submit to chemical testing.

Penalties for Refusing to Submit to Chemical Testing

Arizona’s implied consent laws incorporate several rules.  First, the implied consent law states that if a person refuses to consent to a blood, breath, or urine request from a police officer in the state after being suspected of a DUI, then his or her license would be suspended for a one-year period.  It is possible that during that year, the defendant could get a restricted license after the initial 90-day period of no driving.

You can lose your license for one-year even if you were ultimately found not guilty of a DUI.  Simply due to your failure to comply with the officer’s request for a chemical test, you can face suspension of your license.  A second refusal will result in a two-year suspension of your license, while a third refusal could involve confiscation of your license.

Anyone stopped on suspicion of DUI will want to be aware of implied consent laws in the state so that they can make an informed decision.  It is important to note that you can still be arrested for a DUI should you refuse to comply with chemical testing. Contact our Arizona DUI defense attorneys for more assistance with your DUI charge.