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New Breathalyzer law would give more power to minors

Mar 31, 2017

A new bill passed by the Michigan House of Representatives would require police officers to have verbal consent from minors before administering a Breathalyzer test.

Under current legislation, adults in Michigan can refuse a Breathalyzer test, or PBT, but minors cannot.

Even if they're not under the influence, minors who are driving can be ticketed and fined for refusing a Breathalyzer, and a refusal adds two points on their driving record.

Even if they're not under the influence, minors can be ticketed and fined for refusing a Breathalyzer, and a refusal adds two points on their driving record. 

The penalty for refusing  a PBT is only if minors are driving. Case law currently says if a minor (not driving) refuses a PBT after an officer has reasonable suspicion of drinking, then an officer has to get a search warrant. But in that case there isn't a penalty that affects their driving record.

Representative Pete Lucido is sponsoring the bill. He feels strongly that the law takes advantage of minors, based on their inability to refuse a PBT.

"I'd like to know from the state how much money they brought in on those PBT refusals last year," Lucido said.

Breathalyzers are occasionally shown to be imperfect indicators of intoxication. Lucido says that's reason enough for officers to stop using the test on minors.

"If it's inherently unreliable, and it's inadmissible in a court, why are we using it?" Lucido asked

The bill would still allow minors to be arrested for refusing to take a breathalyzer if an officer has probable cause they drove under the influence.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to more clearly differentiate between what happens if a minor is driving or not.