Is Refusing A Breathalyzer Test Ever Smart?

July 10, 2015

A paralegal friend told me recently that you should never, ever consent to a breathalyzer test when pulled over, even and especially if you’ve only had one drink and there’s no way you’re over the limit. She swore that they’ll make you blow into it so hard/frequently it may register as over anyway, and the risk of that or some other incriminating malfunction was far greater than the risk of refusing the test and being arrested. (She went on to describe what happens then and why it’s preferable, but I can’t remember all of that, as alcohol was involved in this conversation.) Is this true? Are different states radically different in this regard? Is this notion generally insane?

Generally insane? Cupping the police officer’s balls is generally insane. Your friend’s advice is not generally insane. But it is kind of wrong. Never trust an absolute statement like that (except for this statement about absolute statements—you should trust this one).

First up: States do indeed differ on this issue. So my discussion here really goes to setting up a framework that will help with the analysis I would need to run in order to determine, in a specific instance, whether I would refuse a breathalyzer.

Read the rest of the column here at Deadspin.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

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