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Can you refuse a breath test during a Virginia traffic stop?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2021 | Drunk Driving (DUI)

If a police officer suspects that you have had too much to drink before driving, they might ask you to perform a field sobriety test. If they question your performance on that test, they might then have probable cause to request a chemical breath test.

The testing units that police officers use in the field can return unreliable results. It is impossible to know exactly how many Americans have found themselves facing criminal charges because of inaccurate breath test readings, and many people feel like they have to plead guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) if they fail a test.

Even if you know you haven’t had too much to drink, you might want to avoid performing that test because you worry about what the results might be. Do you have the right to refuse a chemical test as a driver in Virginia?

State law does require that you submit to chemical testing

Virginia has clear rules about your driving privileges. The state enforces the standard per se blood alcohol limit of 0.08% in most drivers. It also has an implied consent law related to chemical testing. Essentially, by driving in Virginia, you accept that officers with probable cause can demand a chemical test.

Once an offer has enough probable cause to arrest you, they can also demand a chemical test. If you refuse to perform the test when an officer has good reason to request it, then that officer might arrest you right away for the violation of the implied consent law.

Not only could you lose your license temporarily because you would not submit to the chemical test, but you could also still find yourself facing impaired driving charges anyway. Prosecutors don’t necessarily require chemical test results to charge you with a DUI.

Drivers who question the accuracy of their test results could challenge them

Performing a chemical test even when you don’t trust in the accuracy of the system at least leaves you in compliance with state law. However, it could result in your arrest and drunk driving charges. Still, you may be able to fight against those charges by challenging the test results.

Understanding the laws regarding chemical impairment and testing in Virginia can help you avoid a mistake that leads to a criminal record.