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Penalties for refusing a breath test in New York

When one is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in New York, the officer may ask the driver to submit to a chemical test, such as a breath test. Drivers have the right to refuse to submit to such tests. However, there are consequences for doing so.

If a driver in New York is over the age of 21 and refuses to submit to a chemical test, he or she may be fined $500. In addition, the driver's license may be revoked for 12 months or more. The penalties are even steeper for commercial drivers. If a commercial driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, he or she may be fined $550. Additionally, the commercial driver's license may be revoked for 18 months or more.

If a driver under 21 years old is accused of violating the state's zero tolerance laws and refuses to submit to a chemical test, he or she may be fined $300, along with a mandatory reapplication fee of $100. In addition, he or she will face a driver's license revocation of 12 months or more.

If a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test within five years of either a prior refusal to submit to a chemical test or a drunk driving charge, the penalties are even higher. In this situation, drivers may face a fine of $750. In addition, their driver's licenses may be revoked. The length of the license revocation depends on a person's age and what type of license they hold. In general, a driver will face a license revocation of 18 months or more. If the driver is under 21 years old, his or her license will be revoked for either 12 months or until the driver turns 21. If the driver holds a commercial driver's license, his or her license could be revoked permanently.

Understandably, nobody wants to be hit with such penalties. Drivers have the right to refuse to submit to chemical tests. However, they should know the consequences of doing so. This information may help drivers make the decision that they feel is in their best interests when it comes to taking a chemical test for suspicion of drunk driving.

Source: New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, "Penalties for alcohol or drug-related violations," accessed Dec. 19, 2014

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