Pennsylvania’s implied consent law applies to all Pennsylvania driver’s license holders. Drivers must consent to chemical testing, including blood, breath, or urine, if the police believe they are driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), a controlled substance, or both. It is critical to contact an experienced PA refusal defense lawyer if the police claim that you refused chemical testing.
What Happens if I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?
Refusing to submit to chemical testing will result in the suspension of your driving privileges. It will severely impact your ability to get to work, school, medical appointments, and other crucial everyday activities. It is essential to have a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney on your side if the police accuse you of refusing chemical testing.
Bucks County DUI Refusal Lawyer
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals facing the suspension of their driving privileges for chemical test refusal in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
What Warnings are the police Required to Give Me Before Requesting a Blood or Breath sample?
Before requesting chemical testing, the police must inform a driver of the following:
- You are under arrest for DUI
- The police are asking for a chemical test of your blood
- A chemical test refusal will result in a minimum 1-year license suspension
- You do not have a right to consult with a lawyer before testing
Examples of Behavior Considered as a Refusal
Generally, anything short of a complete, unequivocal agreement to submit to chemical testing by the police will be considered a refusal. Verbally advising the police officer that you are refusing chemical testing is an example of an express refusal. Examples of behavior deemed by the police to constitute an implied refusal include:
- Providing insufficient breath samples
- Remaining silent after a request for chemical testing
- Sustained argumentative behavior after a request for chemical testing
- Requesting an alternative chemical test
What are the Civil Penalties for a Refusal?
- For a 1st offense, a refusal to take a chemical test will result in an automatic 1-year suspension of your driver’s license
- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) will impose an automatic 18-month suspension of your driving privileges if you have a prior DUI conviction or if you have refused chemical testing in the past
- A mandatory driver’s license restoration fee of up to $2,000
How Can a Refusal Affect My DUI Case?
It is essential to recognize that PennDot will apply a driver’s license suspension for a chemical test refusal even if the prosecutor agrees to withdraw your DUI case. PennDot will also enforce a driver’s license suspension for refusal even if a judge or jury finds you not guilty of the DUI charge or if the district attorney approves your DUI case for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD).
Consecutive Suspensions for Refusal and DUI Convictions
The driver’s license suspension imposed as a result of a chemical test refusal will be “stacked” on top of and run consecutive to any driver’s license suspension ordered as part of your underlying DUI charge. It is not uncommon to find yourself facing a 3-year driver’s license suspension due to a DUI conviction and a chemical test refusal.
How Long do I have to Appeal the Refusal Suspension?
You have 30 days from the date of the PennDot driver’s license suspension notice letter to appeal the suspension. Filing the necessary forms with the court for the appeal can be complicated for a non-lawyer. Contact me for a free consultation regarding your Pennsylvania driver’s license refusal suspension.
What Happens at a License Suspension Appeal Hearing?
In many instances, it is possible to successfully appeal a driver’s license suspension resulting from a chemical test refusal. You have 30 days from receiving your notice of driver’s license suspension to file an appeal. The license suspension appeal hearing will occur in the Court of Common Pleas of the county where the arrest stop occurred. The hearing judge will require PennDot to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the following:
- The police put the driver under arrest and had “reasonable grounds” to believe the driver was operating or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance;
- The police asked the driver to submit to chemical testing;
- The driver refused to submit to chemical testing; and
- The police explicitly warned the driver that a refusal would result in the suspension of their operating privileges.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Refusal Hearing?
The court will grant the driver’s license suspension appeal if PennDot fails to meet its initial burden of proof at the appeal hearing. Once PennDot has established its initial burden of proof, the burden of proof shifts to the driver to prove that their refusal was not “knowing or conscious” or that they were physically unable to take the test.
How to Beat a DUI Refusal
I will thoroughly investigate the facts and circumstances of your case to determine any available defenses to challenge the refusal license suspension in court. I often retain a private investigator to subpoena police dash-cam and body-cam video to establish our defense.
In some cases, I have proved that the police officer did not have reasonable grounds to place a driver under arrest for DUI. I established that the driver did not display signs of impairment such as erratic or dangerous driving behavior before the police stopped the vehicle.
In other cases, I have demonstrated to the court that the driver was not provided with a meaningful opportunity to comply with the chemical test request by the police.
Were you Given a Meaningful Opportunity to Comply?
The police officer will advise you that you do not have the right to speak to an attorney before deciding whether to consent to chemical testing. In addition, a request to talk to a lawyer after receiving the chemical test warnings will be considered a refusal by the police. The police officer requesting the chemical testing must give the driver a “meaningful opportunity” to comply with the request.
In most cases, the police officer will ask the driver to sign a “DL-26b” form as proof that the driver received the warnings. A judge would grant the license suspension appeal if the police did not provide you with a meaningful opportunity to comply with the breath test. I can review the evidence in your case to determine if the police did not give you a meaningful opportunity to submit to breathalyzer testing.
Medical Condition Defense in Refusal Cases
I have frequently presented medical evidence at the driver’s license suspension appeal hearing to establish that the driver suffered from certain medical conditions that prevented them from taking the blood or breath test. Common examples include:
- Individuals with asthma, emphysema, or other breathing disorders
- Hemophiliacs and those with a blood clotting disorder
- Individuals taking anticoagulant medications
I can review the circumstances of your case and your medical history to determine whether a medical condition prevented you from completing the chemical testing requested by the police.
Prove the driver did not Knowingly or Consciously Refuse Chemical Testing
Establishing that a driver did not make a knowing and conscious refusal to submit to chemical testing will result in a reversal of a driver’s license suspension. Many factors can be presented during the driver’s license suspension appeal hearing to prove that the chemical test refusal was not knowing or conscious, including:
- The driver was suffering from severe injuries at the time of the chemical test warning
- Inaccurate statements made by the police during the chemical test warning
- Misleading statements made by the police during the chemical test warning
- A language barrier between the driver and the police officer
A driver may appeal an adverse ruling from the refusal appeal hearing to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. A driver who violates Pennsylvania’s implied consent law may be eligible for an ignition interlock limited license (IILL). I can review the facts and evidence in your case to determine the most effective legal strategy.
Contact a Pennsylvania Refusal Defense Attorney
Are you facing a driver’s license suspension due to a chemical test refusal in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, or the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties? Acting quickly to defend your rights and protect your driving privileges is critical. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.