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Will refusing a BAC test mean an automatic conviction in NY?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | DUI/DWI

DWI is a serious offense in New York. When a police officer stops a driver on suspicion of DWI, they often ask the driver to take a blood alcohol content test.

Many drivers wonder what happens if they refuse to take this test.

Immediate consequences of refusal

According to, each year, the police arrest more than 1.5 million people for DWI across the nation. In New York, refusing a BAC test does not automatically result in a DWI conviction. However, it does have immediate consequences. New York follows an “implied consent” law. This means that by driving on New York roads, drivers automatically consent to take a BAC test if an officer requests it. Refusing the test results in immediate penalties, but it does not guarantee a DWI conviction.

DMV consequences after refusal

Upon refusal to submit to a BAC test, the DMV enforces an immediate suspension of the driver’s license. For a first-time refusal, this suspension extends for one year and incurs a civil penalty of $500. The repercussions intensify for individuals with previous refusals or DWI convictions. Specifically, a second refusal within a five-year period results in an 18-month license suspension and a $750 fine.

Impact on a criminal case

Refusing a BAC test can also affect a criminal DWI case. Prosecutors can use the refusal as evidence. They can argue that the driver refused the test because they knew their BAC was likely over the legal limit. This can make it harder for the driver to defend against a DWI charge. However, a DWI conviction still requires the prosecution to prove that the driver was driving under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Other evidence

In court, other evidence can support a DWI charge. This includes the officer’s observations of the driver’s behavior, such as slurred speech, unsteady walking and the smell of alcohol. Field sobriety tests and any admissions made by the driver can also serve as evidence. Even without a BAC test, these elements can lead to a DWI conviction.

If a police officer stops you and asks you to take a BAC test, you have the option to refuse but you need to know the consequences of that choice.