Should you submit to a Breathalyzer in Alabama?

Just to be clear: Drinking and driving puts your life -- and the lives of others -- at risk. It's always safer to take an Uber, call a friend or stay put until you're sober as an alternative.

If you do get behind the wheel after having a drink or two, you may be understandably nervous about being asked to blow into a Breathalyzer if you're stopped by the police. Even if you don't think that you're intoxicated, you may know that Breathalyzers aren't always accurate and can provide incriminating evidence against you.

So, what should you do? Ultimately, there's no easy answer. Here are the things you need to consider:

Implied consent

When you got a driver's license in Alabama, you gave your "implied consent" to chemical testing -- whether by breath, urine or blood. If you renege and refuse to take the test, you will automatically face a suspended driver's license. Expect a 90-day suspension if it's your first refusal, and a year if you've refused another test within the previous five years.

Negative inference

Refusing the Breathalyzer test may not ultimately help you avoid a DUI charge, anyhow. You can be charged with driving while impaired based on the officer's observations and claim that you were slurring your words or otherwise clearly intoxicated. Prosecutors in this state are also allowed to present your refusal to the jury as "evidence" from which the court can draw a negative inference (meaning they can say that you'd have just taken the test if you weren't actually drunk).

A drunk driving conviction can complicate your life and have expensive consequences for years into the future -- not to mention the stain that a criminal record will have on your reputation. Find out what you can do to protect your interests right away.

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