The DUI Breathalyzer & Implied Consent In Washington

Implied Consent & The Breathalyzer

if you’re driving in Washington state, it’s important to know about something called “implied consent.” Essentially, when you got your driver’s license, you agreed to follow certain rules of the road. One of the rules is involves the breathalyzer test. And, if you are from another state, you avail yourself to the same rule by enjoying the privilege to drive on our roads.

Pulled Over For DUI

Due to implied consent, if a police officer pulls you over in Washington and has reasonable suspicion that you’ve been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you’re required to take a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). Refusing the test can result in serious consequences, including license suspension. And, if you are criminally charged with DUI, there will be a special allegation that includes a “refusal,” which will lead to more penalties.

At “The Station”

Sometimes, drivers will half-way comply with the rule but still face a penalty. For example, a driver might submit to the roadside portable breath test (not admissible) but, once arrested and transported to a station for processing, they will refuse to take the breathalyzer. Unfortunately, it is the breathalyzer at the station that “counts” for the implied consent law. And, if you are fooling around with the test, such as not blowing hard or as advised, it will count as a refusal. The refusal leads to a much lengthier driving suspension.

How The Prosecutor Uses A Suspension

If you refuse the breathalyzer, you not only face a longer license suspension, it allows the prosecutor to use it against you at trial. The law allows the prosecutor wide latitude to argue to the jury that only a guilty person who knew they would have a high BAC would refuse the test. So, while the state may not have evidence of your actual BAC, they still get to use your refusal to sway the jury. And, many juries find the argument “only an impaired person would refuse to comply with the rules” to be compelling enough for a guilty verdict.

There are very rare circumstances where refusing to submit to the breathalyzer works in the defendant’s favor. In the vast majority of the cases, the defendant loses more favorable options to resolving the case by not blowing.

Out of State

If you are from another state where the implied consent does not exist but you plan to drive in Washington, make sure you understand how Washington laws work. Any suspension initiated in Washington will be given full faith and credit in your home state and result in a license suspension.

If you or a loved one was stopped or arrested under suspicion of DUI, reach out to our lawyers to learn what steps you need to take NOW — even if you have not yet been charged or arraigned. DUI cases have criminal and administrative tracks that happen simultaneously so you have to be on top of the case right away. Call to learn more. (360) 792-1000

Ryan and Jen Witt of Witt Law Group, Kitsap County defense and personal injury lawyers

Get help now

Whether you choose to handle your case alone or engage the Witt Law Group, being informed and prepared is essential. Early involvement of an attorney can significantly impact your chances of a fair recovery, allowing you to focus on healing while we handle negotiations with insurance adjusters to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

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