If a police officer pulls you over for a suspected impaired driving offense in Pennsylvania, they are going to follow a certain procedure. First, they will speak to you to see if your behavior indicates some degree of impairment.
If they still suspect that you might be under the influence after talking with you, they will probably ask you to exit your vehicle. At that point, you will likely be requested to perform a field sobriety test to judge your memory, balance and eye motion, as alcohol can impact all of these functions.
Finally, the officer may request that you perform a chemical breath test to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in your body. If it is at least 0.08%, you will likely face impaired driving charges. What happens if you refuse to do that test?
Refusing a chemical breath test violates the state’s implied consent law
Pennsylvania’s implied consent law states that anyone operating a motor vehicle on public roads has already given implied consent to chemical testing when officers have probable cause to order it. If you refuse a chemical breath test, the officer conducting the traffic stop will likely arrest you at that time.
What are the penalties if you refuse a breath test?
Knowing the consequences for a violation of the implied consent law can give you an idea of the impact that a refusal will have on your life.
If this is the first time that you declined taking a test when ordered to perform one by law enforcement, you will likely lose your license to drive for 12 months. If you have a previous refusal on your record, the suspension of your driver’s license will likely last 18 months in that case.
It’s also worth noting that refusing the test won’t necessarily help you defend against impaired driving charges in court, as the officer can still testify about your behavior during the traffic stop. If you’re facing charges for DUI and/or refusing to take a test, it’s wise to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.