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Can I Refuse the DUI Testing?

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Drunk Driving, DUI, DUI and Evidence, Evidence

Q: Can I legally refuse to take a breathalyzer or field sobriety test during a DUI stop in Washington? A: Yes, you can legally refuse these tests, but it’s important to understand the consequences. Washington’s “Implied Consent” law means that by driving, you’ve implicitly agreed to submit to these tests if suspected of DUI. Refusal can lead to immediate penalties.

Q: What happens if I refuse the breathalyzer test? A: Refusing the breathalyzer test can lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension for at least one year, regardless of the outcome of your DUI charge. This is separate from any penalties you might face if convicted of DUI.

Q: Are there other penalties for refusing the breathalyzer test? A: Yes, besides the license suspension, refusal to take the breathalyzer test can also be used against you in court as evidence of your guilt. Additionally, you might face higher fines and longer jail time if convicted.

Q: What about refusing the field sobriety tests? A: While the consequences for refusing field sobriety tests are generally less severe than refusing a breathalyzer, refusal can still be used as evidence in court. The officer may also base their decision to arrest you on other observations that suggest impairment.

Q: Can the police force me to take a breathalyzer or blood test? A: If you refuse a breathalyzer, the police may obtain a warrant for a blood test, which is much harder to refuse. Compliance at that point becomes legally compulsory.

Q: Should I ever refuse a breathalyzer or field sobriety test? A: It’s a complex decision that depends on many factors. Refusing a test can lead to immediate administrative penalties and might be used against you in court, but in some cases, it could potentially weaken the prosecution’s case if they have less evidence of impairment. It’s a decision that should be made with an understanding of the legal implications, and consulting with a DUI attorney as soon as possible after a stop can provide guidance.  A public defender is on call 24/7 to answer these types of questions.  I recommend asking for an attorney as soon as the officer and/or trooper tells you that you are not free to go.  In general, it is better to perform the tests.  The proper administration of both the BAC, a warrant for a blood draw or the instructions and demonstrations of the field sobriety tests can all be challenged by your lawyer.  Potentially, the evidence can be suppressed or at least called into doubt.  However, a refusal to provide the tests, samples, etc leaves very little room for legal manuevering.  The jury will just hear that you refused and be instructed that can be used to reasonably infer that you were hiding the fact that you knew that you would not pass. Having asked for a lawyer gives a good response.  I was just following the advice of my attorney.  Or, if one is not provided, that you refused because you did not know what to do since you wanted a lawyer’s advice but weren’t provided an attorney.