Missouri Measure Makes Refusing To Submit To Breath Test A Crime

Missouri State Representative Don Phillips recently proposed a potentially important bit of legislation, which, if enacted, could seriously change existing Missouri DUI law. The legislation, known as House Bill No. 461, says that those who refuse to submit to a chemical test will now be charged with a crime. Specifically, the bill states that those who refuse to submit to a chemical test (including blood or breath tests) will be charged with tampering with evidence. This charge is a Class A misdemeanor.

Representative Phillips claims that the basis for the legislation is that the evidence of intoxication exists inside the body of the person suspected of drunk driving and a refusal to submit to a chemical test amounts to tampering with that evidence. Though the measure was first proposed during last year’s legislative session, it failed to get much traction. Phillips says that this year the reception is different and the bill has already made its way through its first and second legislative hearings and is waiting on being assigned to a House committee before moving forward.

Currently, Missouri state law says that those who have been arrested for drunk driving who then refuse to submit to a chemical or breath tests to determine the level of blood alcohol concentration may face a revocation of their license. The basis of this yearlong license revocation is found in Missouri’s Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law stands for the idea that every driver on Missouri roads has already given consent, by virtue of appearing on the roadways, to a chemical test of their blood alcohol level after being arrested on the reasonable belief that they were intoxicated while driving. Missouri Revised Statutes 577.041 deals with the law and is crystal clear that if a license revocation occurs following a driver’s refusal to submit to a breath or blood test, that person’s only option is to petition for a hearing before a circuit division of the court in the county in which the arrest took place.

If the new legislation should come to pass then those pulled over for drunk driving who later refuse to submit to a chemical test of their blood to determine their level of intoxication will now face an additional criminal charge on top of their license revocation. The charge comes with potentially serious punishment; according to Missouri Revised Statutes 558.011, a Class A misdemeanor can include a prison term not to exceed one year. Class A misdemeanors are also punishable with fines of up to $1,000.

If you’ve had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri DWI defense lawyer capable of aggressively protecting your interests, contact our St. Louis DWI law firm today at (314) 863-0500.

Source: “Missouri Bill Would Make Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer a Crime,” published at OzarksFirst.com.