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You Can Be Arrested for Refusing to Submit to Breathalyzer in Both England and the United States

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

For some reason, people in the United States think they have a right to refuse a breathalyzer. If you’re pulled over in the U.S., the police officer may ask you to submit to a chemical test to determine if you’re drunk. People think they have a right to refuse to submit to this test.

The truth is, you can refuse to take a chemical test. However, you’ll be arrested if you do. By applying for a driver’s license, you agree to submit to any chemical tests related to driving. The same is true once you choose to get behind the wheel. Not having a valid driver’s license is not an excuse for refusing a breathalyzer test.

The interesting thing is that England follows a similar rule. As much as people think the United States is just really strict when it comes to drinking and driving, England is just as strict. The drunk driving laws in England are very similar to those in the U.S.

What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer or Chemical Test in Arizona?

If you’re pulled over for a routine traffic stop, the police officer may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer. If he smells alcohol on your breath or thinks you’re under the influence, he can ask you to take a test.

If you take the test and pass, you may be allowed to go home. Unless the officer has some other reason to think you’re impaired, you’ll be free to go. If, however, he thinks you’re under the influence of drugs, he may have cause to arrest you.

If you refuse to take a breathalyzer or chemical test, you will be arrested. There are certain laws when it comes to refusing to take a breath test in Arizona. Most state laws mimic these rules.

  • Legally, you can refuse a breath test unless the police have a warrant BUT

  • If you’re arrested for DUI and refuse to take the test, you’ll have to surrender your license immediately

  • If you refuse a test your license will automatically be revoked or suspended for one (1) year

  • If your license is suspended, you can ask that it be restored after three (3) months in exchange for agreeing to an Ignition Interlock Device on your car

The State doesn’t even need to conduct a hearing to take your license away. It must be surrendered at the moment you refuse the test. The DMV will be notified immediately that your license has been suspended.

How Is a Breathalyzer Refusal Treated in England?

Drunk driving is a problem all over the world. England has laws very similar to the United States when it comes to drunk driving. If you’re pulled over in England for suspicion of drunk driving, you’ll be asked to take a breathalyzer. They may also ask you to submit to a chemical test.

England law is even stricter than those in the United States. In England, you can be asked to take a test in any of the following situations:

  • If you’re suspected of drinking and driving

  • If you’ve been pulled over for any driving offense

  • If you’ve been involved in a car accident

If you refuse to take the test, there are certain consequences:

  • Up to 6 months imprisonment

  • An unlimited fine

  • A ban from driving for at least one year

As you can see, in England, they can make you take a test for any reason. Typically, in the U.S. they only have you take the test if they think you’ve been driving while drunk. In England, they can have you take one for any traffic stop and in any car accident.

The other interesting thing about the laws in England is that you can be forced to take a drug test in addition to a breathalyzer. If the officer thinks you’re under the influence of drugs, they can demand that you take an actual drug test. If you refuse, you’ll be subjected to the same consequences as refusing to take a breathalyzer.

Drunk Driving Offenses Are Taken Seriously on Both Sides of the Pond

Clearly, it doesn’t matter whether you’re driving in the United States or England – if you’re caught drunk driving, you’re in trouble! And, even if the basis is different, you’re required to submit to certain tests on both sides of the pond.

In the U.S., officers usually won’t ask you to take a breathalyzer unless they think you’re drunk. A breathalyzer doesn’t tell him whether you’re under the influence of drugs - it only works for alcohol. This is why officers conduct field sobriety tests as well.

England takes the same stance on drinking and driving. They use breathalyzers, drug tests and field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is under the influence. And, in both countries, refusal to take the test is an automatic surrender of your license.

IF you’ve been charged with drunk driving, you should contact a local DUI attorney. There are steep fines and penalties that come with a drunk driving conviction. Call and schedule your consultation today.


Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.