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Is It Always Illegal to Refuse a Breath Test?

New Hampshire law enforcement uses chemical tests to determine blood alcohol concentration after DWI and related types of traffic arrests. One method of chemical testing is breath testing, which measures the level of ethanol on a person's breath and translates this into an estimated percentage of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Anyone who tests at .08 percent or higher can be charged with driving while intoxicated.

Most states, including New Hampshire, have implied consent laws. According to § 265-A:4 of the statutes, it is illegal to refuse a chemical test after having been lawfully arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or liquor. The penalty for refusing a breath, blood or urine test after a lawful DWI arrest will trigger administrative license suspension.

For a first chemical test refusal, the individual can face a 180-day suspension of license. For a second or subsequent offense of the same nature, the license suspension period will be increased to two years. Although administrative suspension immediately goes into effect after a refusal, an individual has the power to contest the suspension.

If you were not lawfully arrested for drunk driving, drugged driving or a related traffic offense, then you are not required to submit to a chemical test. Because this is true, if you or your attorney can prove that you were not lawfully arrested, then your refusal and subsequent administrative penalties may be dismissed.

If you were cited for breath test refusal, your NH DWI lawyer may also be able to contend that the arresting officer did not properly inform you of your rights. The officer may also have failed to properly instruct you on how to complete the breath test. There are standardized procedures that must be followed, and if the officer did not explain implied consent law to the arrestee or failed to give them proper instruction, then the breath test refusal could be dropped.

Here at Shaheen & Gordon, our New Hampshire DWI attorneys are committed to providing aggressive and smart representation for those accused of driving while intoxicated and other traffic violations. Our law firm understands both the administrative and criminal penalties associated with drunk driving and breath test refusals. If you find yourself in a situation where your driving privileges and your criminal record are on the line, do not hesitate to contact a NH DWI attorney at Shaheen & Gordon today.