If a police officer pulls you over and asks if you have had anything to drink, chances are he or she suspects that you could be driving under the influence. The officer will then likely ask you to blow into a Breathalyzer device to confirm their suspicions, and if your results indicate that your blood alcohol concentration level is above the legal limit of .08, that is generally all the probable cause the officer needs to arrest you for drunk driving.
Many drivers are unaware that they have the option to refuse a breath test in Mississippi. However, under Mississippi implied consent laws, drivers implicitly consent to a BAC test in exchange for a driver’s license. In other words, there are consequences for refusing a breath test. In Mississippi, your license will be automatically suspended for at least 90 days and up to one year if you refuse to submit to a breath test.
However, there are advantages to refusing a breath test. First, without your BAC results, it can be very difficult for prosecutors to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. BAC results are often the key to a DUI conviction, and though you could still be convicted without the results based on other evidence (e.g. officer observations, field sobriety test results), it is much less likely.
Also, even though your license is taken away automatically for refusing a Breath test, you could still challenge the suspension. If you file an appeal, there may be a refusal hearing where the judge will determine whether police officers had probable cause to arrest you. If the judge finds that the officer failed to follow proper protocol, the suspension could be revoked. You may also apply for a hardship license if you attend a safety education program, show a need for the license (e.g. employment, education), and obtain insurance.
If you have refused a Breathalyzer test, it can be helpful to talk to a DUI defense attorney in your area as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you file an appeal to avoid losing your driving privileges or help with other aspects of your DUI defense.