Folks who are pulled over for drinking and driving often get confused on the significance of refusing to take a breath test. In Pennsylvania, the refusal of a breath test or a blood or urine test can come with additional penalties beyond a charge for DUI. Recently, the confusion over the refusal of a breath test was not lost on an elected official pulled over for suspected DUI.
Recently, an assemblyman from Gloucester County, New Jersey was arrested on a charge of drunken driving after he declined to a breath test. Even though the incident occurred outside of Pennsylvania, the situation shows how confusing and serious the refusal of a breath test can be.
After being pulled over in the township of Turnersville, the police asked the assemblyman to complete a field sobriety test. The assemblyman complied, performed the field sobriety test and passed. Officers then asked the assemblyman to complete a breath test, but the assembly man refused. After refusing to take the breath test, the assemblyman was arrested for driving while intoxicated, refusal to submit to a breath test, and failure to maintain his lane while driving.
The assemblyman said the day after the incident that he did not realize the consequences of not taking the breath test, that he was being “railroaded” by police, and was denied access to his attorney. The assemblyman also denied the drunk driving charge and said he had not had any alcoholic drinks the evening of the arrest.
In Pennsylvania, a law referred to as implied consent states that by getting a driver’s license an individual implies that he or she will consent to a chemical test when pulled over for suspicion of drinking and driving. Police in Pennsylvania are required to warn drivers that the failure to take a breath test will result in the suspension of driving privileges.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help an individual guard his or her legal rights after a drunk driving arrest.
Source: Philly.com, “Glouco Assemblyman ‘Didn’t Realize the Consequences’ of Refusing Breath Test,” Edward Colimore, August 3, 2012