A law enforcement officer cannot force you to take a breathalyzer test if you get pulled over at a DUI traffic stop in Pennsylvania. If you refuse, you are breaking the law, and you could end up with an additional criminal charge, fine, and other consequences. People often mistakenly think that they can get out of a DUI conviction by not cooperating with the breathalyzer test, but that assumption is incorrect.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Test in Pennsylvania
The officer will not use physical force to make you take the test. It is your legal right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test at a DUI traffic stop in Pennsylvania, but it will cost you. Our state has the implied consent law, which means that you already gave your consent to take a breathalyzer back when you got your driver’s license.
You probably did not notice that section of the Pennsylvania driver’s license application. However, by signing the document, you are giving consent to take a breathalyzer test whenever a law enforcement officer asks you to do so. If you refuse to comply, the state will suspend your driver’s license, even if you were sober at the time.
Penalties for Refusing to Take a Breathalyzer Test
Refusing to take a breathalyzer is breaking the law, regardless of your blood alcohol content, because refusal violates the implied consent law. Here are the consequences you could face for breathalyzer test refusal:
- First offense: driver’s license suspension of 12 months and a fine of up to $500. You cannot get your driver’s license reinstated after the year-long suspension until you pay the fine.
- Second offense: driver’s license suspension of 18 months and a fine of up to $1,000. You have to pay the fine to reinstate your license after the suspension.
- Third offense: driver’s license suspension of 18 months and up to $2,000 in fines, which you must pay before you can reinstate your license.
Violating the implied consent law can be expensive, and it can give you a criminal record. Sometimes people who were not impaired by alcohol refuse to take the breathalyzer “on principle” because they feel that it is a violation of their rights. Unfortunately, taking such a stand is a losing proposition because you already signed away your right to decline the test.
Refusing a Breathalyzer Does Not Help You Avoid a DUI Conviction
The law enforcement officer can have you perform a field sobriety test, which is a series of agility assessments that can assess your level of intoxication. For example, the police officer might have you walk heel to toe, touching your nose with alternate index fingers, while counting backward from 100 by threes. The officer can note in the report other facts, like the smell of alcohol and open containers in your car.
You can still get a DUI conviction without taking a breathalyzer test. In fact, you can get two convictions; one for the DUI and another for the crime of violating the implied consent law. Each conviction can come with fines and other penalties.
How We Can Help If You Got Pulled Over for a DUI Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania
Even if you already refused a breathalyzer, call us. We can request a hearing to challenge your driver’s license suspension. We can help you get ready and represent you at the suspension hearing.
We can represent you for both the implied consent charges and the DUI case. We can negotiate with the prosecutor to try to resolve the charges in a way that minimizes the negative consequences to your livelihood, your family, and your future.
About Our Firm
Our firm founder is a former prosecutor who understands how the criminal justice system works. We will work hard to formulate a defense strategy and give you the guidance and legal services that you deserve.
If your case goes to trial, we will be there by your side. You do not have to face this situation alone.
Consequences of a DUI
A DUI conviction can damage your educational path and career for the rest of your life. You might not be able to get into the college of your choice with a DUI on your record. Having a criminal record will knock you out of the running for many great jobs, even many years down the road.
Your auto insurance premiums will skyrocket if you get a DUI conviction. Your legal fees will be substantial. You might have to pay fines and court costs.
We know that you need a responsive law firm when you are facing the possibility of such severe consequences. We are very accessible to clients. Once you come on board as a client, you can always reach someone during regular business hours and even at other times.
Call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today at 610-680-7842, to get started protecting your future.