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Refusal to submit to breath test in Virginia during traffic stop

A Virginia county attorney was charged with a DUI, possession of a concealed weapon while intoxicated and the refusal to take a breath test. It can be argued whether he did the right thing concerning the refusal, but there are concerns about individuals being told to submit to such a breath test without their consent.

In the minds of certain individuals, the results of blood or breath tests could in most cases lead to a conviction. It can also be argued that in cases of refusal, there could still be a difference of opinion as to whether the individual actually was exhibiting signs of intoxication. In Virginia, the refusal to submit to such a test would generally not be considered a crime. However, that person could nevertheless be found guilty of a civil defense and lose their driving privileges. Still, no one should assume that refusal to submit to a blood or breath test will prevent that individual from being convicted of a DUI.

Being pulled over for a DUI often leads to the presumption that the driver was impaired while behind the wheel, and that’s why attorneys experienced in DUI defense will provide advice and counsel to such individuals. It remains up to the prosecution to prove up a case as every defendant has the right to defend themselves. The rule of law rather than public pressure is what must be maintained under such circumstances, and this is why every defendant should be provided the right to have an attorney to represent them. We need to also keep in mind that breath testing results (or being penalized for refusing to submit to a breath test) have often been challenged by attorneys representing their clients on a number of grounds.

More importantly, treating all alleged offenders the same does not address the unique circumstances of this case. From reading the papers, we don’t know why this attorney was arrested for DUI or what led to law enforcement officers pulling him over. Every circumstance in which drunken driving is alleged is different and we cannot approach every case in the same manner or hand out the same sentences in every circumstance.

Source: PilotOnline.com, “For Joe Six-Pack, refusing DUI test is dicey game of playing attorney,” Kerry Dougherty, Nov. 1, 2013

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