The Right Approach For The Right Situation

Is it smart to refuse a breathalyzer test?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2023 | DUI Defense

Operating a vehicle after drinking is never a great idea, but mistakes do happen. And you may find yourself being pulled over by the police on suspicion of DUI. If this happens, it’s important to know your rights and options under Pennsylvania law.

As you probably know, the breathalyzer test is one of the primary tools the police use to determine whether a driver is over the legal limit. The breathalyzer device works by taking a reading from the breath of the person, and it generally is an accepted piece of evidence in court for a DUI charge.

Should you refuse to take a breathalyzer test?

You might be tempted to refuse if you believe you will fail a breathalyzer test. Doing so, however, can have negative consequences.

Under Pennsylvania law, any person refusing a breathalyzer test faces a mandatory suspension of their license. Keep in mind that this suspension is upheld regardless of whether you’re convicted of driving under the influence. Even if the DUI charge is dismissed entirely, the license suspension still remains in effect. The suspension will be anywhere from 12 to 18 months, with repeat refusals receiving longer suspensions.

Refusing a breathalyzer doesn’t stop law enforcement from arresting you for DUI or attempting to prove their case. Other evidence, including the eyewitness testimony of police, can result in a DUI conviction.

Breathalyzer tests can be challenged

Just because you’re recorded blowing over the legal limit on a breathalyzer doesn’t necessarily mean the results can’t be challenged. Pennsylvania law dictates a clear set of guidelines for administering a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer result can be ruled invalid if any of those guidelines are violated or ignored.

An improperly calibrated breathalyzer device can result in unreliable readings. Test results can be challenged if the person administering the test isn’t fully and properly certified. If the officer administering the test deviates from the set procedure for giving the test, this can lead to a successful challenge too.

While it may seem tempting to refuse a breathalyzer test if you’ve been drinking, it’s important to understand the consequences of that choice. You’ll receive additional penalties above and beyond any charges you face for DUI, and you may still be convicted even after refusing.