Can a Driver Refuse to Take a DWI Chemical Test in Missouri?

Can a Driver Refuse to Take a DWI Chemical Test in Missouri?

When many people are pulled over, they frequently misunderstand their “rights.” One issue that often comes up is the chemical test to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content. In Missouri, can you outright refuse one? Strictly speaking the answer is yes, but it is really a little more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”

A driver who has been pulled over for suspicion of DWI has rights guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Missouri as well as by law. For example, everyone has the right to remain silent if questioned by a law enforcement officer. If you are suspected of a crime like DWI, what if the officer asks you to take a breathalyzer or other chemical test?

In Missouri,Sec. 577.041 RSMo provides a driver 20 minutes to contact a lawyer to decidewhether or not to take the chemical test. Of course if an attorney is reached,your options on how to proceed can be discussed. If an attorney is not reachedby the end of the twenty minutes, however, the driver will have to make adecision – take the test or refuse. 

So, what are some of the consequences of consenting or refusing to a chemical test? If you refuse, the fact that you refused may later be used against you in Court. In addition, your driver’s license will be revoked by the Missouri Director of Revenue for one year, although you will be given a 15-day temporary license along with instructions on how to appeal the revocation of your license. 

If you consent to a chemical test, the results of the test may be favorable and provide exculpatory evidence in your defense to the charge of DWI. The results may, however, be unfavorable and provide the prosecution incriminating evidence that it may attempt to present against you in support of the DWI charge. The fact that the prosecution says that the chemical test show intoxication does not necessarily mean that the driver is guilty of DWI. Chemical test results are prone to common errors that produce inaccurate results.

Whether a driver should take a chemical test is not a question that can be answered generally, but rather depends upon the answers to many fact specific questions that are beyond the scope of this article. For more information and to discuss how we can help, contact us.

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