If you find yourself under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska, you will be asked to submit to a chemical breath test once you arrive at the station or jail. The purpose of the test is to determine if you have alcohol in your system. If you have never before been asked to take a breath test, you may be reluctant to do so. What happens if you don’t agree to take the breath test? An Omaha DUI defense attorney explains the possible consequences of refusing a breath test in Nebraska.
Why Do We Have Implied Consent Laws?
Until fairly recently, driving under the influence was not considered a serious offense in the United States unless it was the cause of an accident. Judges routinely handed down a “slap on the wrist” in all but the most egregious cases and law enforcement officers even overlooked “minor” infractions. All of that changed thanks to a campaign by private advocacy groups and government agencies to raise public awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. As awareness grew, states strengthened their drunk driving laws and increased their penalties for a violation of those laws. For some time, however, a veritable loophole remained – refusing the chemical test. Because states laws relied so heavily on the results of a chemical test to convict a defendant of DUI, many motorists simply refused the test. That, in turn, led to the passage of “implied consent” laws in most states across the country, including Nebraska. Although each state has its own version of the law, the general concept behind an implied consent law is that anyone who operates a motor vehicle within the state has given consent for a chemical test for the purpose of testing for the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood. You can still refuse a breath test, in most cases; however, that refusal will come with consequences of its own that are separate and independent from any punishment you may receive if convicted of the underlying DUI charge.
Nebraska’s Implied Consent Law
Nebraska’s version of the implies consent law can be found in the Nebraska Revised Code Section 60-6, 197 which reads as follows:
Any person who operates or has in his or her actual physical control a motor vehicle in this state shall be deemed to have given his or her consent to submit to a chemical test or tests of his or her blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the concentration of alcohol or the presence of drugs in such blood, breath, or urine.
Penalties for Refusing the Test
In Nebraska, refusing a chemical test can actually result in a separate criminal charge being filed against you. The arresting officer is required to advise you of this fact when asking you to take the test. If the officer fails to advise you, it does not mean the results of the test (assuming you ultimately take it) are not admissible in court; however, it does mean that the State cannot charge you will a separate crime for refusing the test. Moreover, if you refuse to take the test, that refusal can be introduced as evidence at trial that you were driving under the influence. Keep in mind that, despite what people commonly believe, the results of a chemical test are not required to prove that a defendant was driving under the influence. They make proving guilt easier for the State; however, it is possible for the prosecutor to convict a defendant without test results. Finally, if you refuse the test, your driving privileges will automatically be revoked for one year pursuant to Nebraska’s Administrative License Revocation (ALR) law. This revocation is separate and apart from any period of revocation to which you are sentenced if you are ultimately convicted of DUI.
Contact an Omaha DUI Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Nebraska, take the time to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the Omaha DUI defense attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.