Legal Consequences of Refusing DUI Breath or Blood Tests in Pennsylvania
Driving in Pennsylvania is viewed as a privilege – not a right. As such, any person who drives in the Commonwealth of PA implicitly consents to chemical testing when suspected of DUI by a police officer.
Pennsylvania’s “implied consent” law (§1547(a)) provides that any person who drives, operates or is control of the movement of a motor vehicle is deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath or blood, BUT only if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe this person is in violation of certain laws such as DUI.
So what happens if you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test once arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania?
If You Refuse Chemical Testing After a DUI Arrest, You Face Two Potential License Suspensions: Civil and Conviction-Related
1) Civil Suspension (§1547(b))
- A civil driver’s license suspension is imposed by PennDOT under §1547(b) if you are arrested in PA for DUI and refuse chemical testing (breath or blood), regardless of whether you are ultimately convicted of DUI.
- Unlike a conviction-based DUI license suspension (described later), a civil suspension is not subject to the Birchfield Analysis and therefore a warrant for blood testing is not required to effect a suspension.
- There is no civil license suspension for refusing roadside portable breathalyzer tests (a.k.a. preliminary breath tests) (§1547(k)).
- Refusal of chemical testing (breath or blood) can result in a 12-month suspension of operating privileges, or, an 18-month suspension if a) your license has been previously suspended under this law, or b) you have a prior DUI conviction. You will also be subject to a restoration fee of up to $2,000.
- If you are subsequently convicted of the charged DUI offense, any license suspension resulting from that conviction under §3804(e) will be in addition to the civil suspension imposed under §1547(b).
- Even where a person who is facing a DUI 1st offense with no conviction-mandated license suspension, he or she can still receive a license suspension under this law if chemical testing is refused.
2) DUI Conviction-Related Suspension (§3804(e))
- If you refuse blood or breath testing upon being arrested for DUI in PA you can receive a civil license suspension (§1547(b), described above), and if convicted of that DUI you can receive an additional conviction-related suspension under §3804(e).
- If you are convicted of DUI where you refused blood (pursuant to a search warrant) or breath testing (not roadside portable breathalyzer tests), you will be subject to a 12 or 18-month license suspension (under §3804(e)).
- If you refuse testing as described above and have no prior DUI convictions, you are facing an ungraded misdemeanor conviction (§3803(b)(2)) subject to a 12-month license suspension.
- If you refuse testing as described above and have one prior DUI conviction, you are facing a 1st-degree misdemeanor conviction (§3803(b)(4)) subject to a 12-month license suspension.
- If you refuse testing as described above and have two or more prior DUI convictions, you are facing a 3rd-degree felony conviction (§3803(b)(4.1)) subject to a 18-month license suspension.
If You Refuse Chemical Testing After a DUI Arrest, You Face Enhanced Criminal Penalties
- If you are arrested for DUI and refuse blood testing pursuant to a valid search warrant, or refuse breath testing (warrant not required, and not portable breathalyzer testing) you will also be subject to enhanced criminal penalties under §3804(c) if convicted.
- This means that your potential punishment will be the same as someone who is convicted of DUI Highest Rate of Alcohol.
- Even for a 1st offense under §3804(c), you will be subject to imprisonment of not less than 72 consecutive hours.
If You Refuse Chemical Testing After a DUI Arrest, Our Pittsburgh DUI Lawyers Can Help
If you refused chemical testing while arrested for DUI in PA this does NOT mean that you are defenseless. Our DUI attorneys regularly represent and can help clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania who refuse breath and blood tests during DUI arrests.
We are experienced at fighting for our clients at PennDOT civil hearings where we challenge the civil DUI license suspension, and also in criminal court where we challenge the criminal charge that can lead to jail time and a conviction-based DUI license suspension.
In both civil and criminal DUI-related cases, for the Commonwealth to prevail it must overcome its burden of proof. Our DUI defense lawyers can challenge the evidence and keep the government from meeting its burden. We also meticulously analyze whether proper protocol was followed and take advantage of any defenses we discover.
Whatever your case may entail, please consider contacting Shrager Defense Attorneys for a free and confidential legal consultation to learn how we can help you. Call 412-567-6290 right now for a FREE initial legal consultation. Speak directly with David J. Shrager 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.