Police lights flashing in your rearview mirror can create anxiety. If the stop is because an officer suspects you are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, anxiety might increase. Will you be thinking clearly enough to handle the situation if you asked to take a preliminary breath test (PBT)?
Washington, like all 50 states, has implied consent laws. Possessing a driver’s license implies consent to a breath test if you are suspected of driving under the influence. If you refuse to take a breath test, both in the field and later at the police station, an officer is supposed to inform you that you do indeed have a right of refusal.
Should I refuse the Breathalyzer?
However, at that same time the officer must notify you that refusing to take the test results in a mandatory 2-year license suspension at minimum for a first offense. If it is a second offense, the suspension is for 3 years. The penalties for refusing to take a Breathalyzer in Washington state are the same, or even harsher, as if you are convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level of .15 or more.
This suspension is an administrative suspension, administered by the Washington State Department of Licensing and not the courts. However, refusing to take the test can also be used against you in criminal DUI proceedings, and could be seen as an indirect admission of guilt.
What if I refused the Breathalyzer?
If you exercise that right to refuse the breath test, you might still be subject to a blood test. The law says that nothing prevents an officer from obtaining blood, “pursuant to a search warrant, a valid waiver of the warrant requirement, when exigent circumstances exist, or under any other authority of law.”
An experienced defense attorney from Twyford Law Office can help you determine if you have grounds to challenge a DUI charge. If a police officer has not properly explained implied consent, or made errors while administering breath tests or field sobriety tests, there may be grounds to reduce or dismiss the charges.