Even if all you had was a glass of wine with dinner, the sight of flashing lights in the rear view mirror is not a welcome sight. Regardless of the original reason for pulling you over, if the officer becomes suspicious that you are driving under the influence you will likely be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. If the results of those tests further confirm the officer’s suspicions you may be taken into custody. From there, you will likely be transported to the station or jail and asked to submit to a chemical test. What happens if you refuse the chemical test?
Given the pervasiveness of reality television you have undoubtedly seen a breathalyzer administered to a suspected drunk driver at some point in time. The purpose of a breathalyzer is to measure the amount of alcohol in your breath, known as breath alcohol content, or BAC. In Nebraska, operating a motor vehicle with a BAC content of 0.08 or greater is illegal. Furthermore, Nebraska, like most states, has an “implied consent” law which essentially says that if you are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence you consent to a chemical test. While the implied consent law abolishes the need for an officer to obtain a search warrant for a chemical test it doesn’t really require you to submit to a chemical test; however, refusing one comes with some serious consequences.
In fact, refusing to submit to a chemical test in Nebraska is a crime in and of itself which an officer should inform you of when asking you to submit to a test. The penalty for refusing to submit to a chemical test in Nebraska is a license revocation of one year if it is your first refusal as well as a potential jail sentence. Keep in mind that the one year license revocation is in addition to any license revocation you receive if you are ultimately convicted of DUI despite your refusal to submit to the breathalyzer test. Refusing a chemical test for the second or subsequent time can lead to a license revocation of five to fifteen years.
Finally, it is important to understand that the results of a chemical test are not required to convict a motorist of DUI in Nebraska. While a test result of 0.08 or higher makes a conviction more likely a motorist can be convicted without any test results at all or even with a test result below 0.08 if the judge or jury is convinced that the motorist was driving under the influence.