If a police officer suspects that you have been drinking and driving, it is likely that he or she will arrest you and ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. If the test reveals a BAC level of .08 percent or more (for drivers 21 and older), you may be charged criminally for driving under the influence. However, many people wonder if they can legally refuse to take the test in the first place.
Generally, you can refuse a breath test, but not without consequences. Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, by carrying and using your driver’s license, you implicitly agree to submit to chemical tests (e.g. blood, breath, urine) if an officer has lawfully arrested you on suspicion of DUI. Therefore, if you refuse to take the test, your license will automatically be suspended for 12 months, assuming you have no prior DUI convictions. If you have a prior conviction or prior test refusal on your record, your license will be suspended for 18 months. Additionally, you will have to pay a license restoration fee of up to $2,000.
It is also important to remember that you can still be convicted of a DUI even if you do refuse to submit to chemical testing. The officer who pulled you over may present evidence regarding your reckless driving, behavior, and appearance at the time of the traffic stop, which could be enough to result in your conviction.
Refusing a breath test after a DUI arrest has its pros and cons. No matter what decision you make, it may be in your best interest to consult with an experienced DUI attorney to evaluate your case and help minimize potential consequences.