Driving Under the Influence in Pennsylvania

Resusing a breath, blood or urine test for DUI in PA

DUI chemical tests used in PA are breath, blood or urine test. PA implied consent law requires that you to submit any one of them once you are arrested for a DUI.

According to PA law , no one (including the police officer) can force you to take the alcohol test, but for a few exceptions, and you cannot be charged with refusal to submit to chemical test, for it is not a criminal offence all by itself. However, if you were lawfully arrested for DUI and later are convicted of a DUI, the refusal to take a test will become a serious sentence enhancement - an aggravating factor that adds to the gravity of the offence you committed, so you will be imposed penalties for both the DUI act and the refusal to take a chemical test. All that will be explained to you by the officer who stops you in order to check you BAC prior to having you tested or arrested.

Test Refusal Penalties in PA

If you refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test for DUI after a lawful DUI arrest you’ll be penalized with license suspension. However, you can challenge your suspension during a hearing stipulated by the law and ask the court to give you limited driving privileges for your entire suspension term if you are able to prove any of the following:

  • your were physically unable to take the alcohol test (for example, if you refuse to take a breath test because of breathing difficulties, the officer does not offer you a urine or blood test as an alternative and registers breath test refusal instead)
  • your refusal was not conscious or knowing (the officer didn’t adequately warn you about test refusal consequences, you didn’t say clearly “no” but the officer registered refusal).

The limitations include ignition interlock device on your car.

Why should I not refuse to take sobriety test?

  • Chemical test refusal is a sentence enhancement that results in your license suspension (see above)
  • In Pennsylvania DUI cases the law does not give your the right to consult with an attorney before you take a chemical test!

To sum up, if a driver refuses a chemical test he or she must be sure there is no alcohol in his or her blood stream so as not to be imposed extra penalties.

License Suspension Terms for Test Refusal

  • 1 year for the first refusal
  • 18 months for the 2nd and subsequent refusals or having a prior DUI conviction on your record.

When can I be forced to take the test?

PA DUI law obliges you to take the test in the following cases:

  • If your license has already been suspended due to a DUI related offence.
  • Someone was injured or killed as a result of your driving drunk.