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What do drivers need to know about Missouri’s implied consent law?

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Driving with alcohol or drugs in your body is illegal, and the police officers who perform traffic enforcement actively watch for signs of impaired drivers on public roads. When a police officer pulls you over because they think you might be under the influence of a mind-altering substance, they will ask you questions and possibly have you exit the vehicle to perform a field sobriety test.

Everything they do during that interaction helps them gather evidence against you so that they have probable cause to arrest you or request chemical testing. Many people do not want to submit to chemical testing because they believe it will hurt their chances of defending against their possible future charges.

However, Missouri’s implied consent law states in plain language that all drivers have already given implied consent to chemical testing when they choose to drive on Missouri roads. What exactly is the implied consent law, and what will it mean for Missouri drivers?

Implied consent means you have given permission for testing already

Usually, when officers want to search someone or their property without a warrant, they require permission or probable cause. Those restrictions would potentially make it hard to enforce laws against impaired driving, so state lawmakers adopted the implied consent law.

By choosing the drive, people agree to the restrictions and rules put in place about driving in public. Every driver has therefore already given implied permission to law enforcement officers who believe that chemical testing is necessary to determine if someone is safe to drive.

When police officers have probable cause to request a test, you have a legal obligation to comply with a request. If you do not, you violate the implied consent law and run the risk of legal consequences.

What are the penalties for refusing a chemical test?

If you refuse to take a chemical test after a police officer arrests you, you will receive a “chemical revocation” of your license. Your refusal is grounds for a year-long suspension of your driver’s license. This rule applies to breath, blood and urine tests. Even if you refuse, an officer could potentially get a warrant that allows them to draw your blood for testing, even if they have to use physical force to get you to comply.

If the driver refusing the test has a history of alcohol-related driving infractions, the state can also require the installation of an IID in their vehicle after the end of the license revocation period.

Refusing a chemical test can complicate your legal situation quickly.

Drivers concerned about impaired driving charges need to know their rights, including the right to defend themselves, possibly by challenging the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of the test results. Knowing the law and your rights will make it easier for you to defend yourself against pending impaired driving charges.