The Implied Consent Law of Pennsylvania (75 Pa.C.S 1547) states that any person who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in Pennsylvania shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving, operating or in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle:
- is in violation of the laws regarding driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked (75 Pa.C.S. 1543(b)(1.1));
- is driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances (75 Pa.C.S. 3802);
- is illegally operating a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock (75 Pa.C.S. 3808(a)(2)); or
- is involved in an accident in which the operator or passenger of any vehicle involved or a pedestrian required treatment at a medical facility or was killed.
There is also a specific Implied Consent Law in Pennsylvania that is applicable to drivers of commercial motor vehicles (75 Pa.C.S. 1613).
Pennsylvania courts have held that any response from a motorist that falls substantially short of an unqualified and unequivocal assent to a breath or blood test requested constitutes a refusal for purposes of the Pennsylvania Implied Consent Law. Even remaining silent will constitute a refusal for purposes of a PA DUI arrest.
License Suspension for Refusal Under the PA Implied Consent Law
If you are placed under arrest for DUI in Montgomery County, PA and you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, then the testing shall not be conducted and the PA Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driving privileges for 12 months. Your license may be suspended for 18 months if your license has previously been suspended for the same issue or if you have, prior to the refusal, been sentenced for DUI. Learn more about license suspension for PA DUI convictions.
If you are placed under arrest for violating 75 Pa.C.S. 1543(b)(1.1) or 75 Pa.C.S. 3808(a)(2), described above, then your license will be suspended for 6 months.
Relevant Court Cases for Breath or Blood Test Refusal in PA
Pennsylvania courts have held that a blood sample taken from an unconscious motorist that showed he was intoxicated was permissible. Another PA court has held that the police were entitled to the BAC result despite a motorist’s semi-conscious state.
Reasonable Grounds for DUI Required
In order for you to be obliged to submit to breath or blood testing in PA, the police officer is required to have reasonable grounds to believe that you were operating, driving, or were in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in violation of 75 Pa.C.S. 1543(b)(1.1), 75 Pa.C.S. 3802 or 75 Pa.C.S. 3808(a)(2). For example, a police officer needs only to have a “reasonable belief” that your BAC was at least .08% (the legal threshold for PA DUI charges), or that your alcohol concentration was such that you were incapable of safe driving.
Requirements of the PA Implied Consent Law
Montgomery County PA DUI lawyersFor a PA DUI, a requirement for you to be obliged to submit to blood or breath testing is that you must have been arrested for the DUI. All that is required in order to effectuate an “arrest” for purposes of the PA Implied Consent Law is that you be placed under the custody and control of the police officer.
Another requirement is that there must be a request made of the driver. This may seem obvious, but certain circumstances, such as the suspect escaping from police custody, may create an issue with regard to whether a request for chemical testing was actually made.
The PA Implied Consent Law specifically authorizes breath, blood, and urine testing for those suspected of DUI in PA. The type of test administered is left to the discretion of the police officer.
Right to a Lawyer
Motorists in Pennsylvania who are stopped and taken into custody under suspicion of DUI do not have a Constitutional right to consult with a lawyer prior to deciding whether to submit to a chemical test. In fact, a continued request or demand to speak with a lawyer once you have been advised that the right to legal counsel does not apply to the chemical testing process constitutes a refusal under PA law.
Montgomery County, PA DUI Lawyers
The experienced Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyers at The Martin Law Firm offer a free case evaluation for anyone charged with Pennsylvania DUI or who faces a license suspension as a result of a breath or blood test refusal. Our DUI lawyers represent clients throughout Montgomery County, PA, as well as the surrounding areas of Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia and Delaware counties. Contact a knowledgeable Montgomery County, PA DUI lawyer at The Martin Law Firm today at 215-646-3980.