Implied Consent in Washington DUI cases
Washington has an Implied Consent law that states that anyone who operates a motor vehicle within the state is deemed to have given consent to a breathalyzer if arrested and the officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person had been driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence alcohol or drugs. You still have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, but you should carefully consider the consequences before doing so. Typically during a DUI stop and arrest there will be two opportunities to take a breathalyzer: one with a portable machine (PBT) during the roadside stop and a second one at the police station after arrest. The consequences of choosing to refuse a test are connected to the test at the station after arrest.
Evidence in DUI Cases
Sometimes people feel that it might be better to not take the test if they think they will fail or that they will be in a better position to avoid a DUI conviction if they don’t give the police the chance to get the evidence. Unfortunately, a breathalyzer is not required to sustain a DUI conviction and the officer will begin gathering evidence as soon as he or she first observes any behavior that could indicate intoxication.
The officer will be taking note of your condition based on observations of erratic driving, your demeanor and physical presentation, the smell of alcohol or marijuana as well as the results of any field sobriety tests they administer. Additionally, the police can obtain a search warrant subsequent to an arrest for a blood test to determine intoxication if you refuse to take a breathalyzer or if marijuana intoxication is suspected. Refusing to take the breathalyzer at the police station is admissible in court in a DUI case and the prosecutor will attempt to use it to show that you refused because you knew you would fail the test.
Punishment for Refusing a Breathalyzer
The punishments for refusing a breathalyzer are harsher than those for a DUI conviction; for example, refusing a breathalyzer comes with a minimum one year license suspension whereas a DUI requires a minimum of 90 days. These penalties increase if this is not your first offense. It is also important to understand that even if you beat the DUI charge at trial, refusing to take the breathalyzer will cause you to lose your license for a year.
The decision whether or not to take a breathalyzer is a very serious one and best done after consulting an experienced DUI attorney. If you are facing a DUI charge and have questions, please contact us at email@example.com or (253) 236- 4079.