Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers

How Are You Penalized for Refusing a Blood, Breath or Urine Test?

After a DUI, are there penalties if you refuse the tests?

There are penalties. This is a big problem when people refuse the test. This is the biggest thing I caution people against, especially first-time offenders. In Pennsylvania, when you get a driver’s license you automatically consent to give a test of your blood, breath or urine if a police officer suspects you are under the influence.

The police officer has to read you certain rights before you say yes or no to the test. However, if you say no to the test there is an automatic one-year suspension for refusing. That is in addition to whatever you would get as far as suspension time for the DUI.

If it is a second offense refusal, then it is 18 months additional without your license. They really come down hard on you for not taking the tests. Again, the police officer has to read you certain rights, as far as you really have, to take the test.

If you do not take the test, you are looking at enhanced penalties as far as jail time and enhanced license suspension. If you do not take it, you are automatically deemed to be in the highest level of intoxication, the third tier.

What are the breakdowns for blood-alcohol level?

The first level is called the general impairment level. It is 0.08 to 0.099%. The second tier is high rate of alcohol, 0.10 to 0.159%. Then, the highest rate is 0.16%, drugs or a refusal of testing. That is considered the highest rate, and the penalties are more severe the higher the blood-alcohol level.

Based on level of intoxication, how severe is the penalty?

If it is a first offense, you are talking the difference between probation if you are in the lowest level to a three-day mandatory minimum if you are in the highest. If it is a second offense, the penalties go from five days if you are in the lowest level to 90 day minimum if you are in the highest level.

If it is a third offense, it is 10 days in jail lowest level to one year in jail if it is the highest level. The penalties go up exponentially, depending upon your level and prior record within the last 10 years. That is what they look at.

Are there laws in Pennsylvania that address people with an alcohol concentration of below 0.08?

Technically, if you are under a 0.08, you could still be charged although it is going to be very difficult for them to prove the case.

Let me say it in the alternative. If you are above a 0.08, you are presumed to be under the influence based upon the law and all the scientific knowledge we now have about drinking and driving. If you are below, it is called a rebuttable presumption that you are probably not intoxicated. However, the state can certainly try to prove otherwise.

A case I had right before I left the DA’s office is a good example. The law was 0.10 at that point, but I convicted somebody at a 0.09. This is mainly because he was driving like a complete idiot and almost got into accidents. He really was driving unsafely and recklessly. The jury convicted him even though he was under a 0.10.

If you are under, that is good. There is a good chance we could resolve the case. However, it does not necessarily mean it is automatically going to go away.