Getting pulled over by the police is stressful, even for those who have done nothing wrong. However, for drivers who have had a few drinks, the experience can be terrifying. One of the most common questions we get related to Virginia DUI offenses is what a driver’s rights are when it comes to refusing a breath test.
Under Virginia’s implied consent law, drivers agree to submit to a chemical test when a police officer suspects that they are intoxicated. Thus, legally, drivers do not have the right to refuse a breath test. However, a police officer cannot physically force a motorist to blow into a breathalyzer. If a driver will not take a breath test when requested, it is called a refusal.
The first step to understanding Virginia’s implied consent rule is to know the difference between the two types of Virginia breath alcohol tests. The first test, which is administered by police on the side of the road, is called the preliminary breath test (PBT). The results of a PBT are not admissible in court, and the purpose of a PBT is to help the officer determine if someone may be intoxicated. There is no punishment for refusing a PBT; however, doing so may prompt the officer to look a little closer for signs of intoxication that may justify a DUI arrest.
The second type of breath alcohol test is the Breathalyzer test. These tests are given at the police station. Those who refuse a Breathalyzer test may face civil and criminal penalties, including:
- First Offense – The first time someone refuses a Breathalyzer test, it is considered a civil offense, which will result in an additional one-year license suspension, in addition to any other DUI-related suspensions.
- Subsequent Offense – If someone refuses, and they had another refusal within the past ten years, they can be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree, carrying a punishment of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and a three-year license suspension.
It is also important to keep in mind that just because a driver refuses a breath test does not mean that they cannot be charged with a DUI offense. Prosecutors can – and will – bring a Virginia DUI case if a driver refuses a breath test. Of course, in these cases, instead of relying on the results of chemical testing to prove that a driver was intoxicated, the prosecution will present circumstantial evidence that the driver was impaired. Among other things, this will include the fact that the driver refused a breath test.
Have You Been Arrested after Refusing a Virginia Breath Alcohol Test?
If you have recently been arrested for a Virginia DUI offense, contact the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. At Robinson Law, we proudly stand up for the rights of those who are charged with serious crimes. Our dedicated team of Virginia criminal defense attorneys can help you deal with the allegations you are facing so that you can move on with your life as quickly as possible. To learn more, call 703-542-3616 today.