Many drivers worry about the severe penalties associated with a criminal conviction for DUI in Pennsylvania. From jail time and fines to the installation of an ignition interlock device and the loss of driving privileges, criminal consequences can lead to a lifetime of challenges.
Some drivers feel they can protect their rights and limit their exposure to criminal penalties by refusing to take a breath test if pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. These drivers might not realize that Pennsylvania is an implied consent state.
What is implied consent?
Many states have adopted implied consent laws. Essentially, this means that a driver who has accepted the state’s license and right to drive has given law enforcement officers consent to tests designed to measure blood alcohol content (BAC). If, during a legal stop, the driver refuses to consent to the officer’s testing, he or she could face additional penalties.
Even though the driver can still refuse to participate in the chemical testing, this refusal is not without consequence. In fact, if the driver refuses, the officer will notify the Department of Transportation (DOT) who will impose a 12-month license suspension. The length of the suspension can be longer if this is not the driver’s first refusal. From there, the driver likely must pay a reinstatement fee and then install an ignition interlock for a year after the license was reinstated.
Unfortunately, the driver will still face any criminal penalties based on a DUI conviction. If the DUI conviction includes a testing refusal, he or she will likely face harsher criminal penalties than they would have otherwise. With such strict penalties in place, it is wise for drivers to comply with law enforcement. An experienced criminal defense attorney can later challenge the breath test results.