If police suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, they may ask the driver to blow into a breathalyzer to determine their blood alcohol concentration. Drivers are well within their rights to refuse to blow into a breathalyzer, but doing so will trigger an Implied Consent violation, so you need to evaluate the individual circumstances of your situation before you make a decision one way or another.
But are minors subjected to the same protections, whether or not they are in a vehicle? After all, people under the age of 21 cannot legally consume alcohol in normal circumstances. In today’s blog, we answer whether or not minors are required to comply with a breath test when asked by police.
Do Minors Have To Take A PBT?
Let’s start by looking at a situation where we assume the minor is driving a vehicle. Similar to an adult, a minor is not legally required to blow into a preliminary breath test (PBT) just because they are underage. They have the freedom to choose not to blow into the breathalyzer, but that will not free them from the consequences of their actions. They will end up being charged with an Implied Consent violation, and the officer will likely still move forward with the underage DWI arrest assuming other evidence suggests the minor is under the influence of alcohol. The police will not have as clear of a case against you if you do not admit to drinking and you don’t take a PBT, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t bring charges.
It’s worth noting that police will likely try to coerce you into complying. They may say that things will be worse if you refuse or that you should comply if you have nothing to hide, but just know that they cannot force you to take a breath test. That is up to you.
Now let’s look at how this situation would apply to underage passengers or a minor who is caught at a house party. Just like above, police cannot force you to blow into a breathalyzer, even if you are underage and they suspect that you have been drinking. They will again try to convince you that blowing is the right move, but stand your ground, especially if you have been drinking. Since a DWI is not on the line, there’s no reason to give police the evidence they need to convict you of underage drinking. You will not face an Implied Consent violation if you are a passenger in a vehicle or you are walking out of a house party and police suspect you’ve been drinking. Unless you know for a fact you are 100 percent sober, there is no reason to blow into the device.
Again, this won’t necessarily keep you from getting a citation for underage drinking, but it will make it much easier for you to contest the charges in court. If the police don’t have any hard evidence to suggest you were drinking, it’s going to be tough to prove their case. Don’t admit to drinking and don’t blow in a breathalyzer if you know it’s going to make the prosecution’s case against you much stronger. Simply state that you are choosing to invoke your right to not comply with a request for a PBT. You may or may not get a ticket, but it will be much easier to contest the citation in court if you go this route.
So no, minors are not legally required to blow into a PBT just because a police officer asks. Know the law and make sure your kids know the law so they can protect their rights. For more information, or for help with a criminal matter, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.