All states including Missouri have what is known as an implied consent law. This is a law that requires motorists who police believe are operating their vehicles under the influence of an intoxicating substance to submit to chemical testing. Some states require motorists to submit to testing during traffic stops so police officers can determine whether or not to make an arrest, but Missouri only mandates cooperation after drivers have been taken into custody on DUI charges. Some motorists think that refusing to provide a breath or blood sample will deny prosecutors crucial evidence and make proving drunk driving charges virtually impossible, but this is not necessarily true.
Evidence of intoxication and search warrants
While breath and blood test results are usually used to establish blood alcohol concentrations in DUI cases, they are not the only evidence of intoxication prosecutors have available. When drunk driving suspects refuse to take a chemical test, prosecutors could rely on the observations of the police officer involved or footage recorded by a dashboard camera to prove impairment. Police officers can also get the evidence they need without consent if they convince a judge to issue a warrant for a blood draw.
The consequences of refusing a breath test
Motorists in Missouri who refuse to take a breath test after being arrested for DUI lose their driving privileges for one year even if the criminal charges against them are dismissed. This is known as chemical revocation. They must also complete a substance abuse awareness course before their driver’s licenses are restored. An individual or their criminal defense attorney has 30 days to appeal a chemical revocation by filing a petition for review in the county where the arrest was made.
Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test in Missouri is not likely to lead to a drunk driving case being dropped, but it could make securing a favorable plea agreement more challenging. Criminal defense attorneys seek lenient treatment by painting their client’s actions in a more favorable light and mentioning mitigating factors like sincere remorse, but prosecutors could be less willing to make concessions when defendants have refused to cooperate.