Implied consent laws: they’re something that every single state has in place, but they’re often forgotten until drivers find themselves pulled over after having a few too many drinks. Drunk driving laws vary from state to state, but there are a few rules and regulations, like the .08% legal limit and the implied consent agreement, which stay the same across the board.
Whether you’ve just started driving or if you’re realizing that you might need a refresher on these laws, here are a few things that every driver should know:
- First off, an implied consent law is something that every driver agrees to when they sign paperwork at the DMV and receive their driver’s license. Even if you don’t remember learning about it, if you have a legal license, then you’ve agreed to it.
- This law means that police officers have the right to administer chemical testing (either a breathalyzer test on the roadside, or a urine or blood draw test at a medical facility) if they suspect that a driver is intoxicated. These tests measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and determine whether or not he/she is intoxicated.
- Technically, it’s possible to refuse a breathalyzer test and roadside sobriety field tests — but because of the implied consent law, you may still be required to do a urine/blood test, and there will be penalties for refusing to take the roadside tests. (It’s generally assumed that someone who isn’t intoxicated should be willing to have a breathalyzer, since he/she has nothing to hide).
- Implied consent laws don’t just apply to drunk driving — they also mean that drivers are required to show their license and proof of car insurance when pulled over by a police officer.
- Refusing to take a chemical test doesn’t mean that a driver won’t be arrested. In most cases, the driver will be arrested and taken into custody under suspicion of driving while intoxicated; when a chemical test is finally given (either with consent, with a warrant, or without consent under serious emergency conditions), then the driver will go through the DWI arrest procedures.
- A driver can be arrested for drunk driving even if he/she was pulled over for an entirely different traffic violation and was subsequently found to be intoxicated, and in states where sobriety checkpoints are legal, all drivers are expected to stop so that officers can assess whether or not the driver has been drinking.
In summation, it’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel of any vehicle after you’ve been drinking. But if you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to remember that cooperation and politeness are absolutely essential — and in fact, if you have a legal driving license, you’ve already agreed to show both. More on this topic.