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Can you refuse a breathalyzer test in Pennsylvania?

| May 25, 2021 | Drunk Driving |

Some people in Pennsylvania believe that if they refuse to submit to chemical testing of their breath, urine, or blood, they cannot be convicted of a DUI offense. However, prosecutors can still rely on other evidence to secure DUI convictions, including any observations the police officer made about the defendant’s driving, appearance, motor movements, speech, performance on standardized field sobriety tests, and whether there was an apparent odor of alcohol. Refusing chemical testing can also result in other consequences beyond the DUI itself.

Implied consent law in Pennsylvania

Like other states, Pennsylvania has an implied consent law in place. Under this law, people are deemed to have given their consent for chemical testing to check for sobriety at the time that they apply for their drivers’ licenses. This law means that once you are placed under arrest for a DUI, you do not have the right to refuse chemical testing. If you do, you will face consequences to your driver’s license as well as the penalties for the most severe type of misdemeanor DUI under the laws of the state.

Consequences of refusing a chemical test

If you refuse a chemical test after being taken into custody on suspicion of drunk driving, your license will be suspended for a minimum of 12 months. If you have a prior refusal on your record, the period of suspension will be 18 months. People who refuse chemical tests are automatically prosecuted for the highest BAC DUI, which carries the harshest penalties for misdemeanor DUI offenses. If you are convicted of the DUI, your license will be suspended for even longer. Depending on your record, you could lose your license for as long as three years.

While refusing a chemical test might make you think that the prosecutor will not have enough evidence to convict you, doing so could actually lead to more consequences. Even if you were under the influence at the time of your arrest, your attorney might still be able to challenge the breath or blood test results while also raising other defenses to the charges against you.