Police officers in Pennsylvania and around the country usually ask motorists to provide a breath sample for toxicology testing when they suspect that they are driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers are required to submit to such tests under the provisions of what are known as implied consent laws. In Pennsylvania, the implied consent law also allows police officers to ask for a blood or urine sample in situations where they believe a driver is impaired by a substance that would not be detected by a breath test.
Many drivers refuse to consent to chemical tests
Motorists in all states agree to consent to chemical tests during the driver’s license application process. However, many drivers refuse to submit to testing. Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that about one in five drunk driving suspects refuse to provide a breath, urine or blood sample for chemical analysis. While this could make it more difficult for prosecutors to prove DUI charges beyond reasonable doubt, it will not prevent drivers from facing serious consequences.
The penalties for violating Pennsylvania’s implied consent law
The penalties for violating implied consent laws vary from state to state. In Pennsylvania they are severe. If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania and refuse to take a toxicology test, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended for a year. You should also be aware that this is a consecutive suspension, which means that it will be applied in addition to any suspension you receive if you are convicted of drunk driving. You will face this suspension even if you are found not guilty, and you will lose your driving privileges for 18 months if you have a prior DUI conviction or refusal.
Refusing a chemical test could make a bad situation even worse
If you are charged with DUI in Pennsylvania and a police officer asks you to take a chemical test, an experienced criminal defense attorney might advise you to comply. Refusing to take the test will usually prompt police officers to obtain a search warrant for a blood draw, which would provide them with the evidence they seek with no consent necessary. Violating the implied consent law could also make it far more difficult for your attorney to negotiate a favorable plea agreement for you.