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What Happens If You Refuse a Breathalyzer in Ohio?

Updated: November 20, 2023
Nicholas Gounaris
By Nicholas Gounaris

Nicholas G. Gounaris is a skilled trial lawyer and founding partner of Gounaris Abboud law firm. He provides clients of the firm with competent legal representation and focuses his law practice in the areas of DUI Defense, Criminal Defense, Family Law Issues, Federal Criminal Law and Personal Injury cases.

Refusing a Breathalyzer in Ohio Laws

Refusing a Breathalyzer in Ohio Laws

One look at Ohio’s statute on Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI), and you’ll know that getting pulled over for drunk driving is a big deal.

If convicted for even a first-time offense, you face jail time and a driver’s license suspension. If your blood alcohol content is .08% or above, mandatory minimum sentencing kicks in.

This means that you’ll spend anywhere from 72 hours to six days in jail. There are also fines, court fees, the costs of taking an alcohol abuse course, and license reinstatement expenses, so you’re looking at losing thousands of dollars.

Based on these penalties, you may think that refusing a breathalyzer in Ohio is a good idea. In truth, declining the chemical test is not a wise move.

Some answers to these common questions may help you understand the key issues.

For immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate to call (937) 222-1515 or reach us online today. We offer free consultations.

What Does Implied Consent Mean?

In Ohio, you consent to a chemical test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) when asked by police. The test may be through samples of your breath, blood, or urine, but the breathalyzer is the most common. If you refuse the breathalyzer in Ohio, the penalties can be severe.

When Can an Officer Request Me to Take a Breath Test?

Police can ask you to take a chemical test after you’ve been arrested for drunk driving. You must be under arrest before the police can make the request.

If they ask you to take a portable breath test at the scene, you’re within your rights to refuse to blow. These devices are often inaccurate and are usually not administered by a specially trained law enforcement officer, so the results cannot be used as evidence.

What Are the Penalties If I Refuse to Blow?

The first time you refuse a breathalyzer test, you’ll get a one-year driver’s license suspension. Per Ohio’s DUI laws, the punishment increases with subsequent offenses.


  • A second refusal could lead to a two-year suspension of your driving privileges;
  • License suspension for three years for a third refusal;
  • A five-year suspension applies for more offenses.

What Happens to the DUI Charges Against Me?

Refusal to blow is a separate offense from drunk driving, so you could be sentenced to the above punishment regardless of the outcome of our DUI case.

Are There Any Defenses to OVI Refusal to Blow?

The details vary according to your circumstances, but you may have grounds to fight the charges. One of the more common defenses is that the police officer didn’t tell you your rights about the refusal to blow.

Set Up a Consultation with an Ohio OVI/DUI Lawyer Right Away

If you have more questions about refusing a breathalyzer in Ohio, please contact Gounaris Abboud, LPA by calling (937) 222-1515 or sending an online message today.

Our OVI lawyers can schedule a case evaluation to review your circumstances and determine the best strategy for defending your rights.

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