What is the Penalty for Refusing to Take a Massachusetts’ Breathalyzer Test?

Massachusetts is very strict when it comes to drunk driving. If you are arrested for operating under the influence, you will likely be requested to submit to a breathalyzer test (also called a Breath Chemical Test) to measure your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). If you are 21 years or older (i.e., “legal drinking age”) and your BAC is higher than .08, your license to drive will be automatically suspended for 30 days.

Many people wonder what will happen if they refuse to take the breathalyzer test. In 2005, the penalities for refusing to submit to the breathalyzer test were increased BUT the severity of the penality depends on your prior Operating Under the Influence history.  

If you have NO prior OUI offenses and you refuse, your license will be suspended for 180 days automatically. If you’ve had 1 prior OUI, the suspension now becomes 3 years. If you have 2 priors, it’s suspended for 5 years. If you’ve had 3 OUIs, you lose it for good.

You are entitled to challenge the suspension at a hearing in Boston. The grounds for challenging the suspension though are strictly limited to proving that 1) the police did not have reasonable grounds for the OUI arrest; 2) you were not placed under arrest; or 3) you did not refuse the breathalyzer.