When an officer pulls you over for suspected driving under the influence (DUI), the official can’t immediately charge you. They might ask you to participate in field sobriety tests by the roadside. Alternatively, the officer can also ask you to submit to a chemical test. You’ll either blow into a Breathalyzer or provide a blood or urine sample for testing. Chemical tests will measure the amount of alcohol or drugs you might have in your system.
If you refuse a chemical test, you could immediately face sanctions.
Penalties for chemical test refusal
Refusing a chemical test can lead to the suspension of your Class R (for regular drivers) license for 90 days. The officer in charge of the traffic stop will take your license for the administrative suspension procedure and give you a paper receipt, which will serve as a temporary license.
However, if you’ve been previously convicted of DUI, the suspension period is extended to a whole year instead.
Alternatively, if you’re a commercial driver and you refuse a chemical test, the officer can immediately suspend your CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) for one year.
Rules for drivers who were unconscious during testing
Mississippi law also has a provision for when a driver is unconscious at the time of a chemical test. This can happen in cases where the driver passes out shortly after agreeing to a test.
Prosecutors can introduce a driver’s chemical test results as evidence during the court hearing over the motorist’s DUI. If the driver was unconscious during testing, they can refuse the introduction of the test results. However, refusing still results in the administrative suspension of their license.
No matter how you refuse a chemical test, Mississippi’s Department of Public Safety has the final say on whether it’ll uphold your license suspension. This administrative suspension is separate from the court hearing over your DUI, so your license could still be suspended even if the DUI charge was dropped.
You can appeal the administrative suspension by filing with a local district court. Because you’ll be facing both an administrative and a criminal court procedure, it might be a smart move to have legal counsel on your side.