Am I Required To Take A DUI Test During A Traffic Stop In Virginia?
Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, driving under the influence (DUI) is an unfortunately common occurrence. When a driver operates their vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of substances, they can face Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony charges for DUI. In either case, a conviction can lead to jail or prison time, criminal fines, and a mandatory period of driver’s license suspension.
A key component of any DUI charge involves chemical testing. Law enforcement must ascertain the driver’s precise level of intoxication to sustain a DUI charge. Otherwise, it can be exceedingly difficult for the prosecution to prove that the driver was actually impaired or intoxicated.
To help facilitate DUI testing, Virginia law establishes implied consent to test for intoxication or impairment. If a driver refuses to submit to such a test, it can carry potentially severe legal consequences.
Implied Consent to DUI Testing
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-268.2 creates the rules for implied consent to DUI testing. Under this section, any person who drives in Virginia — even if that person has an out-of-state driver’s license — provides implied consent to a chemical test that measures intoxication. The chemical test must occur within three hours of the alleged offense and may involve samples of the driver’s blood, breath, or both.
If law enforcement suspects that the driver is impaired by alcohol, Section 18.2-268.2 typically requires a breath test. Though if a breath test is unavailable — or the driver is unable to submit to a breath test — then a blood test is permissible in this type of situation.
If law enforcement suspects that the driver is impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, Section 18.2-268.2 usually requires a blood test. In certain cases, a driver who previously submitted to a breath test may also need a blood test also, if law enforcement suspects impairment from multiple substances.
Penalties for Refusing DUI Test
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-268.2 details the penalties for refusing a DUI test. Whether the DUI test in question involves a test of the driver’s breath, blood, or both, the penalties are the same.
The first time a driver refuses to submit to a DUI test, it is a civil offense. The punishment for this civil offense is a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.
If a driver refuses to submit to a DUI test at least twice within 10 years, it remains a civil offense, but the punishment increases in severity. For these repeat offenders, the punishment is a 36-month suspension of driving privileges.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal assistance with Virginia charges for DUI, we can help. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Leesburg criminal lawyers at Simms Showers LLP for a consultation.