Implied Consent Law
Per PA statute, if you operate a motor vehicle on highways or trafficways in the Commonwealth, you give consent for the police to conduct a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or the presence of a controlled substance. The police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence.
If you refuse to take the chemical test, the chemical test shall not occur per PA law and your driver’s license shall be suspended for a period of twelve (12) months. Your license shall be suspended for eighteen (18) months if you refuse the chemical test and this is your second DUI or second refusal.
Should I Refuse the Chemical Test?
As a former DUI prosecutor, I get asked this question quite often. My answer varies depending on the situation.
First off, please do not get the roadside breath test, also called a portable breath test (PBT), confused with the breath test back at the police station or hospital. A roadside test is test given on the scene and is a preliminary breath test. In Pa, always refuse a roadside breath test. You are not obligated to take a PBT and will not lose your license if you refuse.
In regard to the breathalyzer given back at the station or a chemical test of your blood or urine, my advice is as follows:
- if this is your first time DUI, I always advise my clients to take the test unless you have a prior criminal record that involves more than a summary offense. This means blow into the breathalyzer at the police station, or allow the phlebotomist at the hospital to draw blood. I advise my first offense clients to do this because they will be eligible for the ARD program and may avoid some of the harsh penalties of a DUI. Your license will still be suspended, but it will be limited to a maximum of 60 days if placed on the ARD program. That beats one year of no driving.
- If this is your second or subsequent DUI, unless you feel sober or that you are under the legal limit, I would always recommend refusing to take any type of chemical test. There is not tried and true way to tell if you are under the legal limit, however, you may want to use a BAC calculator to estimate your blood alcohol level. Be very careful because many of these so called calculators are not 100% accurate from my experience.
Additionally, always refuse any field sobriety tests or portable breath tests and do not talk to police. If you follow these instructions you will allow your lawyer an opportunity to win your DUI case at trial.
Contact my office at (610) 299-0295 if you or someone you know refused to submit to chemical testing and still faces charges of DUI.