Driving while intoxicated is never a good idea. However, if an officer pulls you over for suspected DUI and requests that you submit to a BAC test, you may wonder – do you have the right to say “no?”
Understanding your rights is important in any situation, especially when there’s the possibility of being arrested.
Understanding the implied consent laws in Virginia
Virginia follows the implied consent law, which states that as a driver, you have given consent to a chemical test if an officer believes you are intoxicated. This means you can’t refuse the breath test when it is requested.
While this is true, police cannot force you to blow into the machine. If you refuse the test, the legal term for this is “refusal,” and it comes with consequences.
Penalties for refusing a breath test
The first time you refuse this test, it is charged as a civil offense. The refusal comes with consequences of a one-year license suspension. If you are suspected of DUI again in the future and refuse the breath test again, additional consequences may apply. This includes being charged with a misdemeanor if the refusal comes within 10 years of the first. This misdemeanor charge is punishable by a three-year license suspension, fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.
DUI charges and refusing a breath test
Just because you refuse a breath test and face the consequences because of this, it doesn’t mean you won’t also face DUI arrest and penalties. Instead, the consequences of these things will be added to the others. Because of this, it’s important to consider what you do when pulled over for suspected DUI carefully. Knowing your rights is the best way to avoid more serious consequences.