If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI in Virginia, the officer will most probably ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Such a test is meant to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) to show whether you are beyond the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent. Refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test at the scene may keep the state from finding evidence against you, but there is a high probability that you may be arrested for doing so.
A Breathalyzer test is the strongest evidence the law can have against you, but it may not be the only one. If the officer has a justifiable suspicion, such as your erratic driving, you can be arrested for that offense. The Breathalyzer test simply supports their suspicions and furnishes evidence for a quicker trial later.
Why should I take a Breathalyzer test?
If you are arrested and taken to the police station, and still refuse to take a breath or blood test there, the Commonwealth has the right to charge you for violating its implied consent law. This is a different charge from your Virginia DUI.
The papers you sign when you apply for a Virginia driver’s license include a consent in fine print. By signing the papers, you in effect agree to take a Breathalyzer test should an officer require you to do so. The fine print simply states that you must submit to a blood or breath test if you are pulled over for a traffic offense. This rule is generally referred to as Virginia’s implied consent law which is found in VA Code §18.2-268.2(A).
What if you refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test?
Refusing to submit to a lawfully requested breath test under Virginia’s implied consent law is a civil violation. You cannot be sent to jail for it but a conviction for refusal may carry a $500 fine and a suspension of your driver’s license for one year. The license’s suspension period is not decided by a judge and it cannot be negotiated in a DUI defense.
A driver with a record of refusing breath test or a DUI conviction in the last ten years will be guilty of a misdemeanor. On top of a one-year license suspension, you will not be allowed a restricted license if you are convicted of violating Virginia’s implied consent law. These penalties are for first offenders only.
Second or subsequent refusals for a breath test within ten years are Class 1 misdemeanors. They are punishable by fines of up to $2,500, jail time of six to twelve months, a three-year license suspension, and even loss of your driver’s license.
Deciding how to handle the situation is all up to you. Refusing a Breathalyzer test on the scene may not provide sufficient evidence for a police officer to arrest you. Then again, it is a violation of Virginia’s implied consent statute if you are arrested and still refuse a breath test at the police station. You could be faced with additional penalties.
Contact an experienced DUI attorney
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Virginia, you need to have strong legal representation on your side. Our highly competent DUI attorneys at Holcomb Law, P.C will defend your rights and press for the best possible result – even if you refused to submit to the required Breathalyzer test. Learn more about your defensive options and what to expect in your criminal case.
The law firm of Holcomb Law, P.C. can help if you need attorneys who have a thorough understanding of your case. We will take your defense personally and act quickly to protect your rights.
Contact our office today at (757) 509-7832 for a live chat to schedule a free consultation.