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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog

Refusing a breathalyzer for a DUI -- what you need to know

When a Washington driver receives his or her driver's license, the state considers that they have agreed to implied consent. Implied consent grants a police officer to request that a suspected drunk driver submit to chemical testing, such as a blood test or a Breathalyzer exam. If at the time of your DUI arrest you chose to refuse a Breathalyzer, you may be worried about what that can imply.

Nationwide, drivers suspected of drunk driving refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test about 25 percent of the time. However, often the consequences may be harsher for those who refused to submit to testing. This may be to force those who would otherwise refuse to submit to testing to comply, as in some instances the consequences for refusing may be worse than a possible DUI conviction.

Can my car be impounded for a DUI charge?

Impounding a vehicle may result from a myriad of causes. These can include anything from driving while your tags are expired to driving on a suspended license to being charged with drunk driving. While not every state requires that a vehicle be impounded for a DUI, Washington is one of 27 states that have laws related to vehicle impoundment for drunk driving.

To some, impounding an alleged drunk driver's vehicle may make sense. Nearly one third of people who are charged with a DUI have already faced at least one drunk driving accusation in the past. However, drunk drivers do not necessarily account for all of the risk on the road, and 18 percent of crashes that involve at least one fatality are caused by a driver who is not properly licensed.

Second DUI offense can result in aggravated DUI charge

While most drivers in Washington are likely familiar with DUI charges and what they may entail, what constitutes an aggravated DUI charge may be less clear. As an aggravated DUI charge typically entails more serious consequences, the circumstances surrounding an alleged drunk driver's situation may have been more drastic. However, even simply facing a second DUI offense can also result in an aggravated DUI charge.

Even if a driver was convicted of a DUI in another state, this may still be grounds for charging him or her with an aggravated DUI. Elevated charges for alleged repeat offenders are typically harsher in an attempt to discourage that individual from repeatedly driving while under the influence. However, multiple DUI offenses are not the only cause of an aggravated DUI charge. Other causes may include:

  • BAC that is roughly two times the legal limit of .08 percent
  • Driving on a license that has been revoked
  • Driving with a minor
  • Extreme Speeding

Suspected drunk driving wreck kills 1, injures 1 other

One pedestrian is dead and another injured after a collision with what Washington police believe was a drunk driver. Charged with both vehicular assault and vehicular homicide, the driver apparently failed field sobriety tests, although it is unclear if any chemical testing -- such as a Breathalyzer -- was involved. So far, the collision is being treated as a drunk driving accident.

The wreck occurred around 2 a.m. when the driver of a pickup truck was apparently leaving a going-away party that was held at a local bar. A short while later, the truck struck two pedestrians, although it has not been noted whether they were in a crosswalk. One of the pedestrians -- a 25-year-old man -- was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital. The 23-year-old woman that was with him died while still at the scene of the accident.

Drunk driving may have played a role in bicycle collision

A Washington man was arrested after police claim that he struck a bicyclist who was also traveling on the same road. While they believe that there may have been multiple factors that contributed to the collisions, they suspect that drunk driving may have been one of them. The driver has since been charged with vehicular assault.

Around 10 p.m., the driver in question was driving a pickup truck on Highway 410, heading east. The 53-year-old bicyclist was heading in the same direction and was reportedly on the shoulder of the road. At the time of the wreck, the pickup apparently drifted out of its lane and struck the man on his bicycle.

What happens after a DUI arrest?

If a Washington officer determined that you were driving under the influence through a chemical test, then you would likely be arrested and charged with a DUI. For adults, registering a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher on a Breathalyzer test is considered a DUI, although other factors, such as a failed field sobriety test, may also influence this charge if you are under the legal limit. After an arrest, several things will occur.

After a DUI arrest, a license will automatically be suspended. This suspension can range anywhere from 90 days all the way up to two full years, although it may not go into effect until 60 days following an arrest. However, an administrative hearing may be requested within the 20 days after an arrest. This hearing grants you the opportunity to possibly retain your license and may be of particular importance to those who rely on their vehicle for essential transportation, such as going to and from work.

Field tests for suspected marijuana-related DUI

With recreational marijuana now legal in Washington, police are warning motorists that driving while high can result in an arrest for DUI. However, field sobriety tests that officers have previously used to identify suspected drunk drivers do not necessarily translate to those who are believed to be driving high. If stopped for a suspected DUI for being high, you can expect that a specialist will likely be called in.

Field sobriety tests for drunk driving typically include asking a motorist to walk in a straight line. If an individual is suspected to be high and not drunk, then walking that line may be no trouble at all. Conversely, they may be more likely to have trouble remembering what a police officer has told them or asked them to do.

We can fight your DUI related driver's license suspension

In Washington, if you have been arrested for a DUI, you may be unaware that you will actually have to deal with two court cases, not one. While your criminal court case is crucial to attend to, the administrative hearing for your driver's license suspension is also of importance. If you rely on your personal vehicle for commuting to and from work, for purchasing groceries or a myriad of other important activities, retaining your license can be important.

Before you DUI charge is even heard in court, you face the likelihood of losing your license. For those who registered a blood alcohol content of at least .08 percent, then you face a minimum of a 90 day suspension or a license revocation. While you have the right to refuse chemical testing -- such as a Breathalyzer or blood test -- if you do so, then you can potentially lose your license for an entire year.

What will an officer do if I am stopped for a DUI?

It can be intimidating to be pulled over by a Washington police officer, whether for a routine traffic infraction such as speeding or for allegedly suspicious driving behavior. If the officer suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol, he or she will likely administer a variety of tests in order to determine if you are impaired. It is important to know your rights related to these tests if you are ever suspected of a DUI.

Drivers are subject to implied consent laws in every state in the United States. This simply means that drivers are assumed to have already given their consent to chemical testing if they are suspected of driving while under the influence. Chemical tests typically include Breathalyzers, urine or even blood tests. It is possible to refuse a chemical test, although there are consequences for doing so, such as a virtually automatic license suspension that can last anywhere from six months up to a year.

Driver in fatal accident accused of drunk driving

One person is dead following a fatal accident just off of a Washington highway, and at least three others were injured. Police believe that the driver who apparently caused the wreck was under the influence of alcohol while behind the wheel. He has since been charged with vehicular homicide related to the drunk driving accident.

The evening of the crash, a group of six men went to the theater to watch a movie about skateboarding. This activity was supposedly followed up by drinks and rounds of pool at a bar. Around 3 a.m., when the group had loaded back into vehicle, one of the men allegedly requested that the driver perform “slap the rail," which is a skateboarding move.

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