What Happens if I Refuse to Take a Chemical Test in Allegheny?
When you find yourself stopped by a police officer in Allegheny County who has a reasonable suspicion you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, Pennsylvania law gives the officer the right to ask you to submit to chemical testing of your breath or blood. What happens when you refuse to take a chemical test in Allegheny County? The laws of the State of Pennsylvania are clear on the additional penalties you face for the refusal of chemical testing. However, a recent decision by the United States Supreme Court could lead to significant changes in the application of the law.
Implied Consent in Pennsylvania
The law in the State of Pennsylvania regarding chemical testing is based on the concept of “implied consent.” Implied consent means is that anyone in the State of Pennsylvania who operates or is in physical control of a vehicle in the state is deemed to have given consent to chemical testing if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Law enforcement does not have to obtain a warrant to conduct the chemical test.
Penalties for Refusal of Chemical Testing
If you indicate that you intend to refuse chemical testing you will be provided with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Form DL-26, which provides warnings regarding the consequences of refusing a chemical test. If you continue to refuse testing after being provided with the warnings, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least one year and up to 18 months in certain circumstances. Your refusal to submit to chemical testing can also be admitted as evidence against you.
However, the harshest penalties come if you are eventually convicted or plead guilty to DUI after refusing chemical testing. Under Pennsylvania law the refusal of chemical testing makes you subject to the more severe criminal penalties set for the highest levels of blood alcohol concentration, regardless of your actual blood alcohol level at the time you were driving. Those penalties include a minimum of 72 hours in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000.
United States Supreme Court Ruling Impacts the Current Law
A decision issued by the United State Supreme Court this summer has established that conducting a chemical blood test without a warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ruling impacts Pennsylvania’s law regarding implied consent when it comes to conducting chemical blood testing and the penalties for such refusal. While the law in Pennsylvania has not changed, it is likely that the enhanced criminal penalties for the refusal to submit to a warrantless chemical blood test would now be considered unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court decision does not affect the imposition of driver’s license suspensions for refusing a chemical blood test.
How Skilled Pittsburgh DUI Attorneys Can Help
A conviction for driving under the influence, or even a suspension of your driver’s license for refusing to take a chemical test, can cause damaging long-term impacts in both your personal and professional life. With the state of Pennsylvania’s implied consent law in flux because of decisions made by the United States Supreme Court, it is more important than ever to have a skilled and experienced DUI attorney defending you in Allegheny County.