Refusal of a Chemical Test in Pennsylvania

woman refusing breathalyzer test

When you put your signature on your Pennsylvania driver’s license, you are giving implied consent. This means you are stating you will submit to a chemical test should you ever be pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. If you refuse to take a breath test or will not submit a blood or urine sample for analysis, you are subject to other charges and potential penalties, if convicted.

Operation Versus Physical Control

Within the state, operation and physical control of a vehicle are different, but not necessarily in the eyes of the law. The way the DUI statute is written, you only need to be able to make the vehicle move in order to be charged with the offense.

For example: You realize you have had too much to drink and don’t believe that it is safe to continue driving. You do the right thing and pull into a shopping center’s parking lot to wait until you believe you are sober enough to drive. An officer finds you stopped with the keys in the ignition. Because you could make the car move if you chose to, you could be charged with DUI.

Possible Penalties for a Refusal

If you refuse to take a chemical test after a law enforcement officer asks you to do so, you could face the following penalties and other charges:

  • First Offense: You face a one-year license suspension and pay $500 to have your license reinstated.
  • Second Offense: You could have your license suspended for 18 months and will have to pay $1,000 to have your license reinstated.
  • Third Offense: You will have your license suspended for 18 months and will have to pay $2,000 to get it back.

It’s important to understand that the penalties for a refusal are often more harsh than those for a driving under the influence conviction. Also, you should understand that these penalties are in addition to any penalties you face for the driving under the influence conviction.

What Should You Do?

Whether or not you submit to a chemical test after you are pulled over is a decision that you must make. Many people refuse to take a chemical test believing that the police will not have evidence to use against them. This assumption is not necessarily the truth. On the other hand, it is not always true that if you take a chemical test, an attorney won’t be able to help you. Every situation is unique, and you must do what you feel is appropriate.

If you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence in Philadelphia, please reach out to our office. We can help you whether or not you took or refused a chemical test. We may be able to get the charges against you reduced or eliminated. In every situation, we will work tirelessly to defend your rights in a court of law. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.