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What Is The Michigan Implied Consent Law?

By obtaining a driver’s license in the state of Michigan, you have implicitly given your consent to submit to a chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) by law enforcement if you are suspected of driving under the influence. Refusal to comply with this implied consent law carries certain penalties, namely the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. States like Michigan are especially strict looking to make sure that drunk drivers are held accountable for their actions and safety on the roadways is taken seriously.

What Happens If I Refuse A Chemical Test?

If you are arrested for drunk driving in Michigan, you must take a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). This is often a breathalyzer test, which is taken on a large machine at the police station. The chemical test can also be a blood or urine sample. Refusal to submit to the test is considered a violation of Michigan’s implied consent law.

A report of refusal will be sent to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and you must contest it within 14 days or risk an automatic six-point deduction from your driving record and a one-year license suspension. If it’s your second refusal in seven years, you will receive an automatic two-year license suspension and have no right to appeal.

Can I Refuse The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)?

It’s important to understand that the implied consent law pertains only to chemical evidentiary tests taken after you’ve been arrested. During a roadside drunk driving investigation, police may ask you to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) by blowing into a handheld device. The results of a PBT can give an officer cause for suspicion but that measurement cannot be used as evidence in trial.

Refusing a PBT is not considered a criminal offense; it is instead classified as a civil infraction. This carries a potential fine of up to $150 along with court costs. Contrary to popular belief, refusing the preliminary breath test has no effect on your driver’s license — there are no points or suspensions added to your record; it’s just treated as another speeding ticket.

Implied Consent Hearings

You have the right to contest your implied consent charge and can set up a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. If it is shown that the officer did not correctly read you your implied consent rights, or that you did not refuse a chemical test, then you can have this charge dismissed by the administrative judge.

When it comes to contesting an implied consent violation, your attorney may present a number of possible defenses. These include showing that the officer lacked grounds to link you to suspected drinking and driving, that the arrest was not conducted correctly, that your rights regarding chemical tests were not read out properly, or that your refusal was reasonable. Additionally, your attorney can argue on the basis of a fear of needles or lack of access to an attorney prior to taking the test.

If you are found at your hearing to be in violation of implied consent, it does not matter if you were acquitted of the criminal OWI charge — you can still receive a suspension of your driver’s license. Six points will be added to your record, with an initial length of one year for a first offense and two years for second refusal within seven years.

Experienced Representation For Implied Consent Hearings

Going to the hearing without legal counsel would not be advisable, but it is important to work with an attorney who understands the law and how these hearings work. Jesse Williams leads a team of experienced lawyers who have handled many drunk driving cases, including clients who refused the chemical test. We know how to prepare and present legitimate defenses at the implied consent hearing to give you a fighting chance of keeping your driver’s license.

We can answer your questions and discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation. Call our Traverse City law firm at 231-735-8575 or email us to arrange a meeting. We handle these proceedings in northern Michigan and statewide.