Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore: Can You Refuse it?

Last updated on April 22, 2022

alcohol breathalyser machine

If you are driving at night, you may be stopped by police and asked to give a breath sample for an alcohol breathalyser test. This article will explain:

What is an Alcohol Breathalyser Test?

An alcohol breathalyser test takes a sample of your breath and analyses it to give a reading of the amount of alcohol in your blood. It is administered by a police officer, usually at the traffic checkpoint itself. Under certain circumstances, however, a police officer can choose to require you to go to a police station to give the sample (see below).

Can I Refuse an Alcohol Breathalyser Test in Singapore?

You cannot refuse to give a breath sample in Singapore. It is an offence to do so. If you refuse and have no reasonable excuse for doing so, you can be sentenced to a fine of $1,000 – $5,000 or to up to 6 months’ imprisonment for a first offence.

You could try to call a lawyer at a traffic stop if the police don’t try to stop you from doing so, and assuming that you can do so without the police overhearing your conversation. However, a lawyer would probably just explain the consequences of your refusal to give a breath sample and, more often than not, would advise you to give it.

How is an Alcohol Breathalyser Test Administered? What Happens If I Fail the Test?

To give a breath sample, you blow into a mouthpiece until you are told to stop. If the breathalyser indicates that your blood alcohol content is above or close to the legal limit – namely 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, or 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood – you will most likely be required to go to the police station to give another sample on a more accurate breathalyser machine and/or to give a blood sample. You cannot refuse to give this additional sample either, or you would face the same criminal penalties as stated above.

If the results of these more accurate tests show that you are over the legal blood alcohol limit, those results will most likely be used as evidence to charge you with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. For a first offence, you could be sentenced to a fine of $2,000 – $10,000 and/or up to 12 months’ imprisonment.

The maximum sentence for a DUI offence, on a subsequent conviction, is a fine of $5,000 – $20,000 and/or up to 2 years’ imprisonment. So if you are very certain that you will fail the breathalyser test, it may then make sense to refuse to take it and accept a sentence of up to 6 months’ imprisonment for refusing to take the breathalyser test.

However, if you think it is possible that you may pass the test, then it is probably better to take it. This is because you then at least have a chance of passing it and not being charged at all, rather than refusing to take it and then definitely getting charged for that refusal.

If you are stopped to take an alcohol breathalyser test and are subsequently charged with any offence in Singapore, you should engage a criminal lawyer immediately. A criminal lawyer may be able to make representations that can result in a fair sentencing.

In rare cases, a lawyer might also even be able to discover some procedural irregularity in the testing that could invalidate the results of the test and cause you to be acquitted.

If you don’t speak to one, you will never know. You can find criminal lawyers here.

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