Dedicated Criminal Defense for Fairfax County and Virginia Statewide
Photo Of Bill R. Hicks

What happens if a driver refuses a breath test?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2023 | DUI |

Getting pulled to the side of the road by an officer can send the pulse rate of any driver sky-high. If that driver also happens to have consumed any amount of alcohol, that might escalate the fear. The request to take a breath test to measure the alcohol content is not one that a driver can refute, or is it?

The Fifth Amendment allows drivers the right to refuse to take a breath test; however, that option can come at another price.

What does implied consent mean?

Virginia law abides by the implied consent law when drivers apply for and receive their licenses. Under this, drivers agree that when asked they will comply with the reasonable request by law enforcement to give a blood, breath or urine sample.

What does a refusal mean?

Refusing to comply and give the breath sample violates the implied consent law. At this point, the law enforcement officer may proceed with arresting a driver on suspicion of drunk driving. By doing this, the officer may go through the legal channels to obtain a warrant for a blood sample, although that can take too long. Instead, the officer may merely rely on his or her observation of a driver’s actions to support the charge.

What happens in the aftermath?

Whether the DUI case proceeds or not, one repercussion does blowback on the driver. A violation of the implied consent law results in an automatic suspension of the driver’s license for one year for the first refusal.

While it may seem a steep price to refuse a breath test, the alternative may prove quite worse should the results possibly reveal a higher level of intoxication.