Being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Virginia can be intimidating. People may be nervous when performing field sobriety tests, even if they are sober. Moreover, they may be concerned about what their future will bring if they fail a breath test. Therefore, a person accused of driving under the influence may be tempted to refuse to take a breath test. However, they should be aware that there are consequences for doing so.
Under the Code of Virginia section 18.2-268.3, if a person is arrested for drunk driving and unreasonably refuses to submit to a breath test for the purposes of assessing their blood alcohol content level, they may have their driver's license suspended. The length of the suspension depends on whether it is a first or subsequent offense. If it is a first offense, then one's driver's license will be suspended for one year. If it is a person's second or subsequent time refusing a breath test within 10 years, then their driver's license will be suspended for three years.
If a person is refusing to submit to a blood test, the police must provide that person with a form stating that with the privilege of having a driver's license means that the person implicitly consents to undergo a breath test if accused of drunk driving. The person must also be informed that a refusal to do so could result in the loss of one's license along with the penalties for doing so. The person also must be informed that such a refusal could be used as evidence should there be a criminal trial.
As this shows, while a person can refuse a breath test at a DUI stop, they should make sure they understand the consequences of doing so. Those who want to learn more about their rights when it comes to submitting to a breath test may want to discuss the matter with an attorney, who can assist them in making an informed decision.