In an effort to fight the serious problem that is drunk driving throughout our nation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that all states can now make it a crime to refuse a breathalyzer test if suspected of driving under the influence.
Previously, only some states – including Alaska – had the legal authority to enforce refusal penalties concerning breathalyzers. The ruling by the high court now gives that same power to all states.
Is This Constitutional?
In delivering the 5-to-3 decision, Justice Samuel Alito said that breathalyzer tests do not impede upon a person’s right to privacy.
He maintained that – unlike a blood test – a breath test doesn’t pierce a person’s skin and is not dependent upon biological samples.
Penalties for Refusing Breath Test in Alaska
Here in Alaska, if a driver suspected of being under the influence of alcohol refuses to take either a blood, urine or breath test, that person will face at least three (3) days in jail and a $1,500 fine or more.
That person’s driver license could also be revoked.
An important qualifier to note on this subject: even though a driver will face heavy penalties for refusing to take such a test, they typically cannot be forced to take it.
The key word in that last sentence is “typically.” If the driver is arrested because of an incident that caused injury to themselves or another person, the state then has the legal authority to force a test.
Our Take on It
We applaud this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. As we said previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us that about 4.2 million people in the U.S. drive under the influence of alcohol at least monthly.
That’s 121 million instances of drunk driving – any one of which can easily and irreparably devastate a family and others.
Injured by a Drunk Driver? Call Barber & Associates
Those who harm others through their poor decisions should be held accountable. That’s why we encourage you to get in touch with us here at Barber & Associates if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.
There is never a charge for an initial consultation.