This issue comes up so often that I thought it prudent to address it. If you’re pulled over in Pennsylvania and the police think you may be under the influence, what are your rights?
There are three types of tests that the police can give you. The first two you can refuse without terrible consequence. If you refuse the third type, you’ll lose your license for a year and often still be charged with DUI. If you’re then found guilty of DUI you’ll lose it for another year (assuming it’s a first offense DUI, longer otherwise).
The first type of test is standard sobriety tests. These can be walking a straight line, the walk and turn test, the stand on one leg test, the alphabet backward test, the follow the pen with your eyes only test, and many others. These roadside tests can be refused with no official consequence and you probably should refuse them if you’ve been drinking or if you may have recreational or prescription narcotics in your blood system from current or earlier use.
The second type of test is a portable breath test. Many offers carry these portable machines that they can get you to blow into on the side of the road. These tests have been deemed inaccurate by the courts and their results are NOT admissible in court. You can refuse this test as well without official consequence.
The third type of test is an official chemical test. This can either be a blood test drawn by a phlebotomist at a hospital or other location, or it can be a breathalyzer machine set up at a roadside checkpoint or back at the police station. These tests cannot be refused under Penndot policy. If you do refuse it, you’re license will automatically be suspended for one year, and that’s before any suspension you might suffer as a result of potentially being charged and convicted of traffic or DUI offenses.
Just to be clear what a refusal is, as this is often a contentious issue. Anything you say other than the word ‘yes’ can be considered a refusal by the police.
If you or someone you’re concerned about has been stopped for or charged with DUI (driving under the influence) in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery or Bucks County, PA, it is critical that you contact our office immediately. Every day we see people in court get harsher punishments than necessary for DUI because their lawyers do not have the experience to understand the intricacies of the DUI laws. Often these lawyers scramble up to members of our team to ask for help at the last minute but by then it’s often too late. Make sure you’re represented by a team of experienced and aggressive professional defense attorneys if you’ve been charged with any crime in the Philadelphia area.