Alcohol Concentration Test Refusal in New Hampshire

Posted by Ryan Russman | Oct 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

Since New Hampshire's laws assume that you automatically give consent to test for alcohol under the implied consent rule, if you are injured or incapacitated in any way and thus incapable of refusing to take an alcohol concentration test, you have not waived your permission to be tested.

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire has time and again upheld the implied consent rule and admitted the evidence of sobriety field tests and blood-alcohol chemical tests even when the defendant has motioned for the results to be suppressed.

When Should You Refuse Testing?
Obviously, having a DWI conviction on your record is something you want to avoid at all costs, and the prosecutor will have a more difficult time proving your guilt without the solid evidence of the results of a blood-alcohol chemical test to present. However, refusing to submit to the test results in an automatic 180-day license suspension or more – even if you are later found not guilty of the actual DWI charge.

Additionally, even if you refuse testing, if the police officer can provide enough other evidence to a judge that there is reasonable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol, then a warrant ordering you to provide a blood sample or submit to other testing may be issued. Even without alcohol concentration testing, the officer's testimony about your behavior, as well as other evidence or witnesses can still be used to convince a judge or jury of your guilt.

Furthermore, if you are involved in an accident, particularly one with injuries and/or a resulting death, there will most likely be no way to avoid the testing. You do have the right to have enough breath, urine, or blood taken so that you can have the second sample independently tested, and the officers must provide you with the results of their testing within 48 hours, otherwise the results may be ruled inadmissible as evidence.

Can Your Refusal Be Used as Evidence?
If you refuse to consent to an alcohol concentration test, that refusal may be admitted as evidence against you at your trial.  Refusing to take the test can make it appear as though the only reason you would refuse would be because you knew your alcohol concentration was over the legal limit.  While some states instruct their juries to ignore the refusal and admit it only as proof that a test was offered, New Hampshire allows it as evidence that can be used against you and you will be instructed of this if you have been arrested and refuse to submit to the test.

Attempts to suppress this evidence have been unsuccessful and the courts have consistently said that as long as the jury is instructed to consider the evidence and come to their own conclusions, it violates neither self-incrimination rights nor prevents the defendant from providing other evidence about why the test was refused.

This post contains excerpts from The DWI Book, the definitive guide to protecting your rights in the face of New Hampshire's tough DWI/DUI laws.

About the Author

Ryan Russman

Attorney Ryan Russman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of New Hampshire citizens. His practice, based in Exeter (Rockingham County) New Hampshire, is limited to cases involving DWI and DUI, other motor vehicle and criminal cases, and many cases involving personal injury. He is, however, best known as one of New Hampshire's leading legal authorities on DWI.


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