There is much misinformation going around these days regarding what your rights are during a traffic stop, especially on YouTube and other internet sites. There are a number of factors helping to foment this wave of misinformation. First off, many internet commentators are going off what they mistakenly believe their constitutional rights to be, which will not help you when you are face-to-face with a judge applying the actual constitutional standard enforced by our courts. Second, while constitutional principles apply nationwide, traffic laws differ from state-to-state, so what may be true in one state may not be true in another. Finally, and this may come as a shocker, many people on the internet simply don’t know what they are talking about. Which brings us to the oft-asked question of whether you can refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test during a DUI-related traffic stop in PA. The short answer is that, not only will refusing to submit to a breathalyzer mean that your driving privileges will be revoked, but it will not necessarily prevent you from being convicted of a DUI.
PA’s Implied Consent Law
Like other states, Pennsylvania has what is called an “implied consent” law which says that drivers in operation of a moving motor vehicle on public roads give their implied consent to submitting to breathalyzer tests in certain cases. Such laws have been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Thus, if you are taking advantage of using a public road, Pennsylvania state law says you also consent to submitting to breathalyzer tests in some but not all scenarios. These scenarios include where a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the driver of a motor vehicle has a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher, where the driver is under the influence of a controlled substance, or where the driver has simply imbibed enough alcohol to render himself incapable of driving safely (which does not necessarily require a BAC of .08%).
The Consequences of Not Submitting to a Breathalyzer Test
Failure to submit to a breathalyzer test will mean that the driver’s driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months in Pennsylvania, or 18 months if the driver previously refused to submit to a breathalyzer or where there was a previous DUI conviction.
Given the more serious consequences that come with a criminal conviction for DUI in Pennsylvania, some drivers believe that refusing the breathalyzer test and simply accepting the license suspension will be a better tradeoff than a DUI conviction. But this presents a false either-or scenario, as police may still arrest an individual for DUI and prosecutors may pursue a DUI conviction without a breathalyzer test based on other evidence, such as police eyewitness evidence and the refusal itself.
When faced with a DUI arrest and pending criminal charges in Pennsylvania, you are advised to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney who can explore all potential defenses, including questioning the sufficiency of the evidence and the propriety of the police action in your matter, to work towards a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Speak with a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, we are committed to defending your rights. Call us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today regarding your DUI arrest.