Westchester DWI–Implications of Chemical Test Refusal

I recently represented a client in a Mount Vernon DWI case. He had been charged with a DWI a few weeks before, and had no alternative options to get to work other than driving himself–he lives alone, has no local friends or family, and works in a location which does not have easily accessible public transportation. Further, taxis would be prohibitively expensive. Under normal circumstances, this would be a client who might very well be eligible for a “hardship license“, which privilege allows those charged with a DWI to drive to and from work, school, for medical treatment, and emergencies during the pendency of a DWI case.

However, the problem for this client is that he lost his eligibility for a hardship license due to his refusal to take a chemical test when the arresting officer asked him to take a breathalyzer. Clients frequently ask the question–“If I am asked to take the test, should I do it?” There are several factors which go into the decision whether or not to take a chemical test: Have you ever been convicted or pled guilty to a DWI before? Are you a commercial driver? Was there an accident involved? How much did you have to drink? The conventional wisdom among DWI lawyers seems to be that if there was an accident or if you have had a substantial amount to drink, it might be the wisest course of action to refuse the test. (The caveat being that in some cases the investigating police can obtain a Court order compelling a mandatory blood test even with a refusal, particularly if there was a bad accident.)

Commercial drivers will suffer much more serious consequences if found guilty of a refusal, (or any DWI related charge for that matter) and on a second refusal, can suffer permanent revocation of their commercial driver’s license, effectively ending their chosen livelihood. In summary, the decision whether to take a chemical test is a complicated one, and listening to people who don’t know any better telling you that it is always better to refuse is not a wise decision–the circumstances surrounding your case absolutely DO matter.

If you have not had much to drink, there was no accident, and you have not previously been convicted or pled guilty to a DWI, the wise course is to take the chemical test. Why? Because if you are found guilty of a refusal, you will have your license revoked for one year, and pay an additional fee of $500.00 to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Further, as in the case with my client, you will find yourself ineligible to obtain a hardship license while the criminal case is proceeding.


If you or a loved one is charged with any DWI offense or a refusal to take a chemical test, contact the Westchester County DWI Lawyers at Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation with an experienced DWI attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.