Breathalyzer Tests and Refusals in Massachusetts

If you submit to a Breathalyzer Test, you should know that the legal-limit in Massachusetts for Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) is a reading of 0.08%, which is relatively low.  For many, studies have shown that even one beer or two can cause someone to fail the Breathalyzer Test if taken within an hour of the last drink.

However, you do have the right to refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer when stopped for an OUI / DUI. When faced with the decision of whether or not to submit to a breathalyzer test, you should know that there will be a mandatory loss of your Massachusetts Driver's License if you refuse the take the test. Accordingly, you should weigh any loss of your Driver's License against the possibility of beating the criminal case if you refuse.

In cases where you might fear blowing a BAC reading greater than 0.08% and jeopardize any chance of beating your case, you may decide to refuse the Breathalyzer Test with the chance of being acquitted at your criminal trial.

If, however, you elect not to submit to a Breathalyzer Test, that refusal cannot be used at trial in the criminal prosecution against you, but your license will be suspended for simply refusing the Breathalyzer Test.  The length of suspension of your Massachusetts Driver's License depends on whether you have any prior refusals, and if so, how many.

In some cases, where the person is not able to give a sufficient breath for a breathalyzer reading, the police will consider this a "refusal".  Recent criminal litigation in these circumstances, however, provides that because the person initially consented to a breathalyzer test, the fact that he was not able to submit a proper sample for a reading may be admissible at trial.

If you elect to submit to a Breathalyzer Test and fail, or blow a reading of 0.08% or higher, your license will automatically be suspended for 30 days.  Persons should also be aware that there are no Hardship Licenses available for Breathalyzer Test Refusals.


***Persons who have been charged with OUI/DUI and have submitted to a breathalyzer test should be aware that there are current challenges to the reliability of the Alcotest 9510 breathalyzer machines. There are over 500 DUI cases across the state that are potentially affected by possible unreliable breathalyzer results. If your case involved a breath test, you need to be apprised of the current status of this litigation before taking your case to trial.***


In addition, the passing of "Melanie's Law" by the Massachusetts State Legislature in 2005 mandated that the operator's car will be impounded for up to 12 hours upon a Breathalyzer Test Refusal.

Massachusetts law now further mandates that, for driver's over the age of 21, your Driver's License will be suspended if you refuse the Breathalyzer Test for:

  • No Prior OUI Offenses:               180 days
  • 1 Prior OUI Offense:                    3 year suspension
  • 2 Prior OUI Offenses:                  5 year suspension
  • 3 or More Prior OUI Offenses:   LIFETIME suspension
For Massachusetts driver's between the ages of 18 and 21, your Driver's License will be suspended if you refuse the Breathalyzer Test for:
  • No Prior OUI Offenses:                3 years plus 180 days
  • 1 Prior OUI Offense:                     3 years plus 180 days
  • 2 Prior OUI Offenses:                   5 years plus 180 days
  • 3 or More Prior OUI Offenses:     LIFETIME suspension
For Massachusetts driver's under the age of 18, your Driver's License will be suspended if you refuse the Breathalyzer Test for:
  • No Prior OUI Offenses:                4 years
  • 1 Prior OUI Offense:                     4 years
  • 2 Prior OUI Offenses:                   6 years
  • 3 or More Prior OUI Offenses:     LIFETIME suspension

Boston Drunk Driving Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis is available 24/7 to explain your legal rights and help defend you against any Massachusetts DUI / OUI Charges.  

Call 617-325-9500 or Click Here to Contact a Boston DUI Lawyer Online.

Boston DUI Lawyers Blog - Breathalyzer Test