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Can I refuse a breathalyzer test in Virginia?


If the police pull you over on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the officer will likely direct you to take a breathalyzer test to ascertain your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Depending on the outcome, the officer may decide to arrest and charge you for DUI or let you go.

You may think that by refusing to take the breathalyzer test, the police would not have any evidence to present in court during your DUI trial. You might also believe that you would not be found guilty of drunk driving and that all you need to do is stick to your story that you only had a bottle or two of beer. Well, this is not necessarily the case. A refusal to yield to a breathalyzer test can actually compound your troubles.

Virginia is an implied consent state

People overlook that driving in Virginia is a privilege rather than a legal right. You are only granted this privilege after meeting a set of requirements, such as passing your driving test and agreeing to observe certain laws. One of these laws is known as “implied consent.” It requires anyone pulled over on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle while impaired to yield to a blood, breath or urine test. A refusal can attract severe penalties. Here are some of these penalties:

First refusal

This would attract an immediate suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year without the provision for a restricted license.

Subsequent refusals

You may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if you refuse to yield to a breathalyzer test for the second or third time. Additionally, your driver’s license will be suspended for up to 3 years. And that’s not all. You may pay a fine and/or serve time in jail.

Facing a DUI charge can be frightening. Whether you took the test or not, having help to defend against any resulting charges will be crucial.


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