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  • Writer's pictureMark Caldwell

What You Need to Know About Michigan’s Implied Consent Laws

When you got your Michigan driver’s license, you agreed to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC if you ever get arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.


In a nutshell, that’s Michigan’s implied consent law.


glasses of brown alcohol in juxtaposition with a judges gavel in relation drinking and driving
By understanding Michigan’s implied consent law and working with top Michigan DUI lawyer, you can protect your rights — and get back on the road sooner.

So what are the consequences of violating implied consent? What steps should you take after a violation? Can you get a suspended license back? 


Read below to find out.


What happens if I refuse a breathalyzer test? 


If you’re pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Michigan, it’s likely the police officer will attempt to administer a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). 


People often wonder, “Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?” Legally, you can. But due to Michigan’s implied consent law, it probably isn’t in your best interest. 


While refusing the PBT isn’t a crime, it is considered a civil infraction — similar to a speeding ticket. But if you refuse the PBT, the officer may arrest you and take you into the station for a chemical test. The PBT refusal is a civil infraction and typically a $150 fine. It is usually dismissed as part of the plea with the prosecutor. 


Once you are taken to jail and read your chemical test rights, and then you continue to refuse to take a blood or breath test, that is the point in which Michigan’s implied consent law kicks in.


The implied consent law states that you agreed to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC for a drunk driving arrest in Michigan. A chemical test involves one of the following:


  • Breath

  • Blood

  • Urine


If you refuse a chemical test, you will be considered in violation of Michigan’s implied consent law.


Once you’re determined to be in violation of the implied consent law, the next 14 days become critical.


Refusing a Breathalyzer
Refusing a Breathalyzer

What do I do if I’m accused of violating Michigan’s implied consent law?


After being accused of violating Michigan’s implied consent law, you have 14 days to request a hearing. 


To request a hearing, you must submit an appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State. If you do so within the 14-day window, an implied consent hearing will be scheduled to review your case. 


If you fail to respond within 14 days, six points will automatically be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended for one year. If this is your second time violating the implied consent law within seven years, your license will be suspended for two years.


How can a Grand Rapids DUI lawyer defend me against an implied consent violation?


If you have violated implied consent in Michigan, it’s important that you contact a local OWI attorney ASAP. Keep in mind that once you’re accused of violating the implied consent law, you only have 14 days to request a hearing — so act fast.


Having the best DUI lawyer in Grand Rapids on your side during an implied consent hearing increases your chances of a better outcome for your case. 


After hearing the facts of your case, a top Grand Rapids DUI attorney like Mark Caldwell may consider a number of potential defenses including, but not limited to: 


  • Challenging the lawfulness of the arrest.

  • Arguing that your refusal was reasonable. 

  • Questioning if you were properly advised of your rights.


Remember that with an automatic six points on your license and a one-year license suspension, the consequences of violating Michigan’s implied consent law can be even more severe than first-time DUI offenses.


If you want to give yourself a chance to avoid or reduce these consequences, it’s crucial to hire an experienced Michigan OWI attorney today.


Important: Even if you did not consume any alcohol, your refusal to submit to a chemical test constitutes a violation of Michigan’s implied consent law. 


The nuances of this law highlight why it’s so important to have an experienced Grand Rapids DUI attorney on your side.


Judge in court behind gavel and scales

Can Mark Caldwell help me get back on the road even after a suspended license? 


If your hearing is unsuccessful or if you fail to appeal your implied consent violation within 14 days, your license will be suspended for one year. Without an experienced criminal defense attorney, you’ll have extreme difficulty getting back on the road at any point in the next 365 days.


With a Grand Rapids drunk driving defense lawyer like Mark Caldwell, however, you may be able to resume driving despite the one-year license suspension.


Michigan law allows drivers to submit a hardship appeal to the circuit court. With a successful hardship appeal, a driver may be granted permission to continue driving. This permission comes in the form of a hardship license.


To be granted a hardship license, the defendant must prove that the loss of driving privileges creates a significant hardship for themself and/or their family.


Common hardship defenses include:


  • Inability to care for a child.

  • Being unable to work.

  • Missing school.


In short, the State doesn’t want the loss of your license to hinder your ability to make positive change in your life. Hardship defenses come in many forms. If you think you may qualify for a hardship license, make sure to contact Mark Caldwell today. 


Man smiling and driving a car

Conclusion


Michigan’s implied consent laws can be a little tricky to follow. But understanding them could be the difference between losing your license for a year or getting back on the road as soon as possible.


To summarize, keep the following points in mind:


  • When you got your driver’s license from the Michigan Secretary of State, you agreed to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC if you ever get arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

  • Denying a Breathalyzer when you’re pulled over is not an implied consent violation. However, it is likely you will be taken to the police station to submit a chemical test (breath, blood or urine).

  • Declining to take a chemical test is a violation of Michigan’s implied consent law.

  • A violation of Michigan’s implied consent law results in an automatic six points on your license and a one-year license suspension.

  • There are a few ways you can fight these consequences, but they’re nuanced and require the help of an expert Michigan DUI lawyer. 


No matter how dire or hopeless your circumstances may feel, you always have options. For nearly 20 years, Mark Caldwell has been helping people fight DUI/OWI and implied consent violations. 


  • “Don't look any further if you're facing difficult and disheartening legal matters. Mr. Mark Caldwell is an affordable and outstanding attorney from start to finish!” – C. White.

  • “Mark was a huge key to getting my license reinstated. Would recommend to anyone in my situation!” – J. VanVels

  • “Mark was so helpful in getting my license back … I would definitely recommend Mark to anyone looking for a lawyer.” – J. Holwerda


Need help with an implied consent violation? Schedule a free consultation with Mark Caldwell today by calling (616) 915-6576 or sending an email to mark@markmcaldwell.com.

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