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What happens if you refuse to take a breath test?

Imagine that you are driving home after a night out watching the game with friends. Your night suddenly goes from great to worrisome when you see the lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. You pull over to the shoulder and wonder if maybe you had one too many drinks. If the officer asks you to take a breath test, will you agree?

Many people in Oregon have found themselves in this situation. Is it better to take a breath test and fail, or refuse to take the test altogether?

Implied consent in Oregon

All drivers in Oregon on subject to the state’s implied consent laws. This means that if you operate a vehicle, you automatically agree to submit to a chemical breath test. Refusing to submit to a breath test is against the law and carries serious penalties.

Penalties for refusing to take a breath test

Refusing to take a breath test is a traffic violation. If you refuse to submit to a breath test and you have no prior DUIIs on your record, your license can be suspended for at least one year. Additionally, you will not be eligible to receive a hardship permit for 90 days, even if you qualify. That means a minimum of three months without the ability to drive.

Breath test refusal also comes with a fine. If you opt out of the test, you will be ordered to pay between $500 and $1,000 in fines.

Penalties for failing a breath test

If you fail a breath test for the first time, your license can be suspended for 90 days and you may face a $1,000 fine. First-time DUII in Oregon also comes with a minimum two-day jail sentence or 80 hours of community service. If you agree to complete a diversion program, the charge against you may be dismissed.

So, is it better to refuse a breath test or take it and risk failing?

There is no right answer in this situation. In either situation, the penalties can be challenged. If you find yourself facing DUII charges or being subjected to penalties related to refusing to take a breath test, it would be wise to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney who is familiar with Oregon’s DUII laws can help you build a strong defense against the charges.

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