Can You Refuse a Breath Test in Indiana?
Navigating the Indiana DUI laws can be complex. This is especially true when it comes to understanding your rights and obligations when compelled to take a breath test in Indiana. It’s vital to understand that while you are certainly able to refuse a breath test, doing so can result in serious implications. In fact, in Indiana, it could lead to the automatic suspension of your license.
The criminal defense team at Keffer Hirschauer LLP is led by two former Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) deputy prosecutors, Bradley Keffer and Tom F. Hirschauer III. They understand Indiana’s implied consent laws inside and out, and possess the experience required to protect your rights in this type of situation.
Remember, when it comes to refusing a breath test, the potential consequences could be quite severe. However, with our team by your side, you can rest assured that everything will be done to secure the best possible outcome in the case against you. To speak with one of our Indiana DUI attorneys today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
What is a Breath Test?
When a person is pulled over under the suspicion driving while under the influence of alcohol, the police officer will often request that they submit to a sobriety test. This could include a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or a portable breath test, or what is more commonly known as a breathalyzer test. This test is conducted using a device called a breathalyzer, which requires the subject of the test to blow directly into the device. Inside the breathalyzer, there are certain compounds, typically a silver nitrate catalyst, that oxidize when they come into contact with alcohol from the subject’s breath. This chemical reaction generates an electrical current, which is then measured by a microprocessor in the breathalyzer. Ultimately, the strength of the electric current is directly related to the amount of alcohol in the breath. In other words, the more alcohol in the breath leads to more electrons, which in turn results in a stronger current. If the subject’s test result exceeds the legal limit in Indiana (0.08%) the officer may then have enough evidence to detain the person.
FAQs: Indiana Breathalyzer Laws
When a person is pulled over under the suspicion that they’re drunk driving in Indiana, police have a set of rules and procedures they must follow prior to arresting the suspect. Understanding these rules and procedures and related laws is vital to protecting your rights and livelihood.
How Do Police Establish Probable Cause in Indiana?
When the police suspect a person is drunk driving, they cannot simply pull them over and arrest them. Instead, they must first establish probable cause; or in other words, gather enough evidence to demonstrate that there’s a reasonable belief that a crime has occurred. For DUI cases, Indiana police use a variety of investigative techniques to establish probable cause. Typically, they’ll start by evaluating their initial conversation with the suspect and use their senses to detect the odor of alcohol or other drugs. Based on their conclusions of this initial evaluation, they’ll decide whether a Field Sobriety Test or a preliminary breathalyzer test is appropriate. If it is, and the subject proceeds to fail the test, the officer may have sufficient evidence to constitute probable cause to detain the suspect.
Can You Refuse a Breath Test in Indiana?
Yes, you can refuse both a preliminary and certified breath test in Indiana; however, it’s not always the best decision. Under Indiana Code 9-30-6-1, anyone “who operates a vehicle impliedly consents to submit to the chemical test provisions of this chapter as a condition of operating a vehicle in Indiana.” So, as provided by Indiana Code 9-30-6-7, when a person refuses to take preliminary breathalyzer test, law enforcement may simply choose to read them the implied consent warning and request that the person submit to a certified chemical test.
Indiana’s Implied Consent Warning: “I have probable cause to believe that you have operated a vehicle while intoxicated. I must now offer you an opportunity to submit to a certified chemical test and inform you that your failure to submit to a chemical test will result in the suspension of your driving privileges for one (1) year. If you have a prior conviction, your driving privileges will be suspended for two (2) years. Will you now take a test?”
What Happens When You Refuse a Certified Breath Test in Indiana?
If a person refuses to take a breath test in Indiana, as well as the certified test, they will likely be detained and have their Indiana driver’s license automatically suspended for one year. Also, despite refusing the test, law enforcement can still pursue criminal charges for a DUI. In some situations, the officer may seek a search warrant from the Court to compel the person to submit to a certified chemical test. Ultimately, if the search warrant is granted and the ensuing test is conducted in a timely manner, the results of this certified blood test can be admissible in court. Furthermore, as stated in Indiana Code 9-30-6-3, the person’s initial refusal to submit to the test is admissible in court as well.
If You Refuse a Breath Test in Indiana, Can You Get Specialized Driving Privileges?
No, under Indiana Code 9-30-16-1, if you refuse a certified breath test in Indiana, you are generally disqualified from obtaining specialized driving privileges. However, Indiana Code 9-30-6-8(d) does allow Indiana courts to, in lieu of the suspension of a person’s driving privileges, issue an order recommending that the person be prohibited from operating a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device.
Defending Against DUI Charges in Indiana
The maximum penalties for DUI convictions are often negotiable, and in many cases, they can be reduced or completely dismissed. The Indiana DUI Attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP have crafted effective defense approaches, ensuring our clients have the strongest chance of reaching a positive outcome in the case against them.
Questioning the Validity of the Vehicle Stop
In Indiana, police officers need reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop. This suspicion could arise from behaviors such as erratic lane changes, driving without headlights, or speeding. In some situations, an experienced criminal defense attorney may find certain aspects of the officer’s reasonable suspicion questionable and use that as part of their defense strategy.
Breathalyzer Test Discrepancies
Factors like medical conditions, recent meals, and certain mouth products can alter breathalyzer test results. Moreover, if the test is conducted improperly or the officer fails to observe the suspect for the required time before testing, the results can be contested. Indiana DUI Attorneys can analyze arrest records to challenge these results.
Field Sobriety Test Misconduct
Officers must adhere to strict guidelines while administering the Standardized Field Sobriety Test, which includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, one-leg stand, and walk-and-turn tests. Improperly conducted tests could lead to the dismissal of DUI charges.
Miranda Rights Infringement
Police must provide a Miranda warning after an arrest and before interrogation. If they fail to do so, any statements made may be excluded from the case. However, voluntary statements made by a non-custodial suspect are admissible in court.
Lack of Adequate Cause for Arrest
Mere suspicion of drunk driving is not enough for an arrest. The officer must also conduct field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Without sufficient evidence, an arrest may be considered baseless. An experienced DUI attorney in Indiana can argue against such an arrest due to insufficient probable cause.
Faulty Blood Sample Handling
Blood tests must be properly collected, analyzed, and stored by certified professionals. Improper handling, such as incorrect storage or labeling, can invalidate the blood sample evidence and lead to the dismissal of charges.
Contradictory Police Testimony
Inconsistencies between an officer’s testimony and their police report can be used to question their credibility. If an Indiana DUI attorney successfully challenges the officer’s testimony, it could lead to case dismissal.
Facing DUI Charges in Indiana?
Whether you’ve refused a breath test or simply been arrested for a DUI in Indiana, the drunk driving attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are prepared to come to your defense. Our team of skilled litigators have received numerous accolades for their DUI defense services in Indiana, including for the high-quality representation we’ve brought to countless DUI clients. We stand ready to help you understand Indiana’s DUI laws and the severity of the charges you face. If retained, we will fight aggressively to reach the best possible outcome in the case against you, whether that is having the charges reduced or having your case dismissed altogether.