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Penalties for refusing field tests

Drivers in Arizona who are suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be asked to take part in a series of roadside tests. While the driver can refuse these tests, they need to be aware there are consequences and penalties involved that may be harsher than those for DUI conviction.

According to the Arizona State Legislature, motor vehicle operators give implied consent when they get behind the wheel. This means they consent to tests of the blood, breath or urine that measure alcohol levels in the body. A law enforcement officer must have reasonable grounds for asking for these tests, and if the driver refuses them their driver's license is immediately surrendered. For first-time offenders, their license is automatically suspended for twelve months. For repeat offenders, there is an automatic suspension of two years. Some argue it is better to refuse the test because they would not have proof of intoxication. However, the refusal is often used against the driver during trial.

For comparison, the Arizona Department of Public Safety lists the penalties for a convicted DUI. For a first offense, there is a minimum jail time of 24 hours and a maximum of 10 days. For a second offense the minimum jail time is 30 days, and for a third offense the minimum time is four months. There is a base fine of $250 for first-time offenders, $500 for second-timers and $750 for those with their third offense. For those who submitted to the field test, first-time offenders lose their license for 90 days, and repeat offenders have a one-year suspension. In all cases, an interlock ignition device is required.

Refusing a test does not mean there are not other ways to prove they were drinking. This means that many drivers lose their driving privileges for one year along with the other DUI penalties, which may be stiffer due to the refusal.   

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