Virginia’s DUI laws are considered among the harshest in the US. For example, a third DUI conviction is punished as a felony and even first offenses often result in jail time. Since the laws are perceived as being so aggressive, many people consider refusing to take a breath or blood test when they get pulled over in order to deny the prosecution evidence that can be used against them if the case goes to court. What many people do not know, however, is that refusing a breath or blood test is a serious charge in and of itself and can lead to repercussions that are just as strong as the DUI charge.
Virginia’s Implied Consent Law
In order to drive in Virginia, you have to have a driver’s license. Everyone knows that, of course. Part and parcel of receiving this license, though, means that once you receive your license, you are deemed to have consented to having either your blood or breath tested if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI. This is called implied consent. Even if you do not have a Virginia license and you are licensed by another state, you are deemed to have given consent to the test as a condition of operating a vehicle within the Commonwealth. As with any law, you have a choice of whether to comply. If you choose not to comply, there are serious repercussions.
Refusing the Test
To have a basis of comparison, it must be noted that the first conviction for DUI in Virginia is punishable by a license revocation of one year, a fine of at least $250 and up to 12 months in jail and if your BAC is between .15% and .20%, you will face a mandatory five-day stint in jail and if it is over .20%, you will spend a mandatory ten days in jail. If you refuse a breath or blood test, your first offence will result in losing your license for one year and it will be considered a civil penalty. Your second offense, if committed within ten years of a prior alcohol offense or refusal, will result in a suspension of your license for three years. Depending on your situation, you may think it is advantageous to refuse. If you compare first offense to first offense, refusal may appear to be a better choice since it results in a civil penalty as opposed to a criminal conviction. This is not necessarily the case.
In Virginia, the prosecution doesn’t necessarily need chemical evidence to convict you. All they have to prove is that your abilities were impaired as a result of intoxication. Furthermore, the officer has the ability to obtain a warrant in some cases to force you to submit to a blood draw anyway. Imagine your chagrin if you have refused the test and get convicted of DUI anyway.
Refusing a blood or breath test is a roll of the dice. On the surface, it sometimes appears that refusal is the way to go. However, it is rare for even the best defense lawyer to get a client out of a conviction for a refusal. It is not so rare, though, that a top-notch criminal defense attorney gets a DUI client acquitted. Jad Sarsour is one of those top-notch defense attorneys. He has helped defend thousands of clients against criminal charges. If you find yourself charged with DUI or refusal in Northern Virginia, give Jad a call at (571) 316-2369 to set up your initial consultation. Put his years of experience to work for you defending your liberty.