You’re on your way home when you see those red and blue flashing lights in your mirror and think, “Uh-oh.” You’re absolutely certain that you’re not drunk but you did have a couple of beers earlier. You’re afraid the officer is going to smell the alcohol on you and ask for a Breathalyzer test.

Can you refuse? Sure. After all, taking the test is only likely to give the state evidence that it can use against you in court if you’re charged with drunk driving. It’s your constitutional right to refuse the test. However, you have to be prepared for what happens if you do:

  • The officer will immediately confiscate your driver’s license.
  • You will be issued a 10-day license that you can use temporarily.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will mail you a formal notice that your license has been revoked.
  • If it’s your first offense, you can lose your license for 240 days. A second offense within six years will cause you to lose your license for 540 days.

While you can ask for a restricted license that will allow you to get to work or school and back, there’s no guarantee that you will get one.

Iowa makes it very tough on anyone who decides to refuse chemical tests like a Breathalyzer because the law considers your driver’s license to be a conditional grant. The mere fact that you have a license to drive from the state means that you have “implied” your consent to submit to such testing. If you revoke your consent, the state revokes your license.

The smart move is to simply never get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you’ve been drinking.  But, mistakes happen. If you find yourself facing drunk driving charges — or even the difficult decision about whether or not to take a Breathalyzer test — contact an attorney right away.