For those who are arrested for DUI in Massachusetts, refusing the breathalyzer can have severe consequences, ranging from a 6 month suspension for first offenders over 21 years of age, up to a lifetime revocation for those with 3 prior DUI convictions, no matter where or when the convictions occurred.
Under the Massachusetts breathalyzer refusal law, which is also known as the “implied consent law,” it is up to the police to properly advise the person arrested for OUI of his or her breathalyzer refusal rights and the consequences of refusing the test.
I recently handled a case where the police misinformed the defendant of breathalyzer refusal consequences. Specifically, the arresting officer informed the DUI defendant that she would lose her license for 6 months, if she refused to submit to the breath test. Based on this information, the client exercised her right to decline the breath test. The police then confirmed that her license would be suspended for 180 days for the refusal. As part of the refusal process, she signed an acknowledgment which stated that her license would be suspended for “180 days up to life.” This is consistent with what the police officer told her, a she believed that her license would be suspended for 180 days.
A few days after her arrest, the client received a letter from the Registry indicating that her license would be suspended, not for 180 days, but for 3 years. This 3 year revocation was based on her prior DUI, which the police knew of when they misadvised her of the 180 day suspension.
What happened here shows that when it comes to DUI consequences, you cannot take what you are told at face value. There is considerable misinformation floating around about Massachusetts drunk driving laws and consequences. Consultation with a qualified DUI lawyer will insure that you are given accurate information, so that you can make an informed decision.