Implied consent in Missouri

As a driver, you have a number of rights that you may invoke when a police officer stops you. If an officer suspects that you are intoxicated, he or she may arrest you and ask you to participate in a chemical test to determine the drugs affecting you or the amount alcohol in your bloodstream. In this case, you have the right to refuse participation in the test, but this right is relatively limited.

Under state law, all drivers who receive driver's licenses in Missouri also consent to subject themselves to chemical testing. This is known as "implied consent." While implied consent does not remove your right to refuse the test, it does provide automatic consequences to those who do. It is important to understand these consequences so that you can make informed decisions if or when you face the choice to submit to or refuse chemical testing.

Missouri revokes the driving privileges of all who refuse chemical testing for one year. This is not an easy pill to swallow, but you may create more legal options for yourself by refusing the test during the stop. While refusing the test does not keep you from getting arrested or facing license suspension, it may seriously undermine the work of the prosecution tasked with securing a conviction for your criminal charges.

Without the evidence of a chemical blood test to indicate your intoxication at the scene of the arrest, the arresting officer must still demonstrate his or her justifications for arresting you. Depriving the officer of this evidence creates a more difficult burden of proof, sometimes making room for a creative legal defense that lessens the punishment for the charges or dismisses them altogether.

This strategy is difficult to navigate effectively. If you are already considering using such a tactic, be sure to seek out professional legal guidance from an experienced defense attorney who can help you understand the full scope of your charges and ensure that you build a strong defense to protect your rights.

Source: Missouri.gov, "Refusal to Submit to an Alcohol or Drug Test FAQs," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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