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Can you refuse a breath test in Massachusetts?

If you operate your motor vehicle in any place to which the public has right to access or has access as licensees or invitees, you have technically consented to submit to a breath test or chemical test if an officer requests one of you. This is per Section 24 of the General Laws of The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you refuse the breath test, the state may impose strict consequences.

It is important to understand that an officer may only request a breath test if he or she believes that you are under the influence of intoxicating liquor and if, at the time of your stop, you are operating a motor vehicle. The officer is also required to inform you of the consequences of refusing such a test or analysis, which may include but not be limited to license suspension for at least up to 180 days or up to a lifetime loss.

If, after learning of your rights and the penalties of refusal, you still refuse the breath test, the officer can revoke your right to operate a vehicle then and there. He or she would have your vehicle impounded for a period of not less than 12 hours. You would be responsible for the fees associated with towing, storing and maintaining your vehicle in the impound lot.

Unlike other states, Massachusetts does not issue a right to operate under any circumstances and will not extend a restricted or hardship permit during the suspension period. This means that you will have to take public transportation or find a ride to work, your court hearings, school and other responsibilities.

If the courts found you guilty of a similar or alcohol-related violation in the recent past, it may suspend your license for up to three years. If you have two similar violations on your record, the court may suspend your license for up to five years. If you have three similar violations on your record, the court may revoke your license permanently.  

The content in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to serve as legal advice.

 

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