DUI & Refusal of Chemical Testing in Pennsylvania
When Lamar Odom was pulled over for a suspected DUI in August, he almost immediately earned himself a one year suspension of his driver’s license. How is this possible when “innocent until proven guilty” is the principle by which our entire criminal legal system is based upon? Lamar made one big mistake: he refused chemical testing.
By obtaining a California driver’s license, drivers consent to have their breath, blood or urine tested if they are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Refusal to consent to such tests automatically triggers a one year license suspension.
California’s law is almost identical to Pennsylvania’s implied consent law. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to take blood, breath, and urine tests if they are lawfully arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. By carrying a Pennsylvania driver’s license, drivers impliedly consent to such searches. However, an officer cannot force a suspect to submit to chemical testing. If an individual suspected of driving under the influence refuses such testing, in Pennsylvania, they will automatically be hit with a one year license suspension for their first refusal. For a second refusal, or if the individual has had a prior drinking and driving conviction, they will automatically earn an 18 month license suspension.
There are limited circumstances wherein a police officer may force chemical testing. If an accident has occurred which has caused serious injury or death, then the driver involved and suspected of driving while intoxicated will be forced to submit to chemical testing; refusal is not an option in this circumstance. Another such instance is where the suspected offender is driving on license that has been suspended for an alcohol related offense.
Many people who refuse chemical testing mistakenly believe that if they refuse chemical testing they cannot be found guilty of the driving under the influence. That is false. Even without chemical testing, a guilty disposition is still possible. In this situation, the individual who has refused testing may be subjected to the one year suspension for refusing the testing, in addition to the license suspension that will accompany the actual DUI charge. Many times, the license suspension for the DUI is less than the suspension for the chemical testing refusal. However, even if the individual is found not guilty of the driving under the influence, they will still lose their license for one year just for refusing the chemical testing.
If you or someone you know has been pulled over for a suspected DUI and refused chemical testing, please contact the experienced DUI attorneys at McMorrow Law LLC to explore your options at 724-940-0100.