YES, BUT YOU'LL be arrested.
Here’s what I mean.
The law allows Gardai to require you to provide a breath test if one of these things happen:
1. You’re driving a vehicle in a public place and the Garda has a ‘genuine’ belief (DPP v Duffy ) that you’ve consumed an ‘intoxicant’ (e.g. alcohol), or
2. You’ve committed some offence (e.g. speeding, failure to wear seat belt etc.), or
3. You’ve been involved in a crash, or
4. You’ve been involved in a crash and death, or injury occurs.
[the Garda] will then give you a warning
[explaining] that if you fail or refuse
to provide a specimen of breath
you will be deemed to have committed an offence
and you will be arrested.
In truth, number 2 above is the main ground that Gardai use to seek a breath test. In other words, you’ve broken the law in some way while driving.
This breach of the law can be very minor. It could be a speeding stop. It could be driving without wearing a seatbelt.
As long as the Garda has an opinion that is “reasonable and genuinely held” (Staunton, Drunken Driving, p. 77) they can demand a breath specimen from you.
Considering the number of interactions that the Gardai have with motorists every day, the number of breath tests which are demanded is quite small.
Just because you’ve broken the law in some way (e.g. speeding) does not mean that you will be tested for alcohol.
Remember, its only where the Garda has a genuine and honest belief.
For people involved in accidents (they do happen) its practically mandatory now for Gardai to seek breath tests at the scene.
Can you refuse to a breathalyser?
If the Garda believes you’ve committed a breach of the road traffic laws and have consumed alcohol, they will require a breath test. They will then give you a warning.
That warning explains that if you fail or refuse to provide a specimen of breath you will be deemed to have committed an offence and you will be arrested.
Not just that, the law (section 9 Road Traffic Act 2010) requires that you ‘immediately’ provide that specimen of breath.
If you don’t, or can’t, arrest is highly likely.