What are the consequences of refusing DUI testing?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

When confronted with the decision to submit to DUI testing in Virginia, it is crucial to understand the potential repercussions of refusal. Virginia operates under an implied consent law, meaning that drivers, by virtue of using the state’s roads, agree to undergo breath or blood tests when lawfully arrested for DUI. So, what are the consequences if you choose to decline these tests?

Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-268.3, refusing DUI testing constitutes a civil offense. For a first offense, the individual faces a 1-year driver’s license suspension, an additional penalty on top of any suspension imposed for the DUI charge. Subsequent refusals within a 10-year period escalate to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This results in potential jail time of up to 1 year, fines reaching $2,500 and a 3-year license suspension, again in addition to DUI penalties.

Refusal as admissible evidence

Beyond civil penalties, the ramifications extend to the criminal realm. According to Virginia Code, if you refuse DUI testing after arrest, prosecutors can present this refusal as evidence of guilt during trial. The court may infer that the refusal implies consciousness of intoxication and an attempt to evade self-incrimination.

Limiting defense options

Refusing DUI testing may compromise your defense strategy too. By not having test results, you forfeit the opportunity to challenge the accuracy or reliability of the BAC measurement. Issues like calibration errors, medical conditions, etc., which limit your ability to question the validity of the evidence.

No guarantee against conviction

Contrary to belief, refusing DUI testing does not assure immunity from a DUI conviction. Prosecutors can still build a case using alternative evidence, such as the arresting officer’s testimony on your behavior, appearance, speech and performance on field sobriety tests. Witness accounts, expert testimonies estimating BAC and video or audio recordings also become pivotal in establishing guilt.

Refusing DUI testing in Virginia brings serious consequences. It leads to civil penalties, the admissibility of refusal as evidence, restricted defense options and does not guarantee protection against a DUI conviction. Therefore, careful consideration of the potential implications is essential when faced with the decision to undergo testing.