How it works

The suspect breathes through a tube into the breathalyzer machine which uses an infrared light to measure the presence of alcohol in the lung air. The level of light absorbed by the alcohol is translated into a blood alcohol level and printed on ticket. After the suspects breath is analyzed, the machine tests a known alcohol solution. The controlled experiment should yield .14 ,.15, or.16 (if not the test is invalid). Finally the suspect again breathes into the machine. The second result must be within .02 of the first test or else the entire test is invalid.

Refusing the Test: New Draconian Rules

A driver may still refuse to take the breathalyzer, but it may not be the best option because this refusal automatically results in a driver's license suspension for 180 days for a first offense and can extend to life depending on the previous drivng history of the offender. Under the new law (Melanies' Law) all operators are deemed to have consented to a breath test as a condition of driving in Massachusetts.

New Law provides the following terms of License Loss for refusing the test:

First Offense: Automatic 180 Day Suspension
Second Offense (or an offender who is under 21): 3 Years License Loss
Third Offense: 5 Years
Fourth Offense: 10 Years
Fifth Offense: Life

Prior Offenses are subject to a lifetime look back provision and including any prior OUI or drunk driving history.

180 versus 30 Days if you Take and then Fail the test by Blowing .08 or above

The new law (which includes alcohol and drugs) now provides that if you are a first time offender who takes the breathalyzer test and blows .08 or higher you are in a better position to protect your license privileges than if you refused the breathalyzer test.

If you take the test and are at or over .08 you will receive no more than a license suspension for 30 days upon conclusion via plea bargain of the criminal charge. And with the help from our experienced attorneys you may be able to receive your privileges even sooner.

Compare this to the situation you would be in if you refused the breathalyzer. In that situation you will automatically lose your license for 180 days for the first refusal offense, a minimum one year loss for a second refusal offense and an 18 month loss of license for a third refusal offense. Second offenders can also get a hardship license with the new law.

The new law also now offers under tight rules first time OUI offenders the ability to receive a hardship license immediately after their case is completed. Second offenders can also quickly get a hardship license with the help of our lawyers, versus the old law which made it impossible. A hardship license is valid from 7am-7pm and is to be used for work purposes only.

A person has the right to be warned of the consequences of refusing the test but not the consequences of failing the test which are more severe.

Find a Drunk Driving Lawyer | Consequences and Penalties | The Law | Massachusetts Legal Limit

Breathalyzer | Field Sobriety Tests | Home Page

Call 1-800-934-2921