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Causes and Consequences of Implied Consent Test Refusal

NCJ Number
Alcohol, Drugs and Driving Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Dated: (January-March 1995) Pages: 57-72
H L Ross; S Simon; J Cleary; R Lewis; D Storkamp
Date Published
16 pages
The causes and consequences of a driver's refusal to take a breath test for alcohol as requested by the police were examined using data from Minnesota.
Minnesota was chosen as the site due to its record as a leader in adopting drunk driving countermeasures and because it was one of the first States to make refusal to take a breath test a criminal offense for persons with recent prior alcohol-related license revocations. Data were collected by means of interviews with 31 prosecutors, private defense attorneys, public defenders, judges, police officers, probation officers, and officials of the Minnesota Public Safety Department. Results revealed that the causes of refusal appear to lie in three factors: confusion and incompetence of the impaired driver, an apparently rational calculation of the costs and benefits of refusal, and the suspect's general or situational hostility. Consequences of refusal include a lower likelihood of conviction, especially of an alcohol-related offense. Minnesota's law that criminalizes certain refusals has had the effects of slightly lowering the refusal rate and of increasing the rate of convictions for an alcohol-related offense. Figures, tables, footnotes, and 8 references (Author abstract modified)