What Are the Consequences if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Washington?
If an officer arrests you in Washington for driving under the influence (DUI), he or she will ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer and/or blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). Some people believe refusing this test will help their case later. Or they may simply know they are innocent and don't think they should have to submit to a test at all.
This is completely understandable. However, refusal to take these tests comes with serious risks. Your Washington DUI defense attorney can explain to you exactly how the system works and why submitting to a chemical test might actually be in your best interests.
Implied Consent Law
By operating a vehicle, you have agreed to Washington's implied consent law. This means that if you're arrested for a DUI, you consent to a test of your breath or blood. The test must be administered within two hours of driving, and is typically a breath test. The blood test usually occurs only if you are unconscious, in a medical facility, or if authorities believe you're under the influence of drugs.
Refusing the Test
Of course, you may refuse to take the test. However, if you do, you're subject to the following penalties under the implied consent law:
- Loss of license for one year
- Monetary fines
- Refusal to take test can be used against you in court
- The test will be administered without consent if an accident involving fatalities or serious injuries occurs
These penalties may be harsher than the penalties for a first-time DUI offense. And remember, refusing the test still doesn't ensure you won't be convicted of DUI.
Challenging the Results
As with all DUI offenses, it is vital to obtain a DUI defense lawyer sympathetic to your situation. Breathalyzer and blood tests are not always accurate. Sometimes a person is unable to provide the volume of air required for a proper reading. Perhaps you refused to take the test out sheer panic or stress. And, often, some breath test machines are not properly calibrated.
If charged with a DUI, contact a Tacoma DUI defense attorney immediately. A seasoned lawyer understands how to build a case and work to get the charges against you reduced or even dropped.