While of course people in Virginia can enjoy a beer, glass of wine or cocktail any time of the year, the autumn and winter holidays are ripe with the tradition of including alcohol in their celebrations. Most of the time people are responsible when they drink. Of course, even responsible drinkers could be pulled over by police while driving, even if their blood-alcohol content is below the legal limit. However, in order to determine whether or not a driver’s blood-alcohol content is above the legal limit, a breath or blood test must be performed.
Under Virginia law, part of the privilege of being able to drive in Virginia is the implied consent to chemical testing if a police officer suspects the person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This testing could be in the form of a breath test, a blood test or both. The purpose of the test is to determine whether the person submitting to the test is drunk or under the influence of drugs. The test must take place within three hours of the person reportedly committing the infraction.
If a person is arrested for driving while intoxicated, a breath test may be performed. If the driver is incapable of performing a breath test, then a blood draw will be administered. The driver has the right to be told by the officer performing the test that the driver has the right to watch the testing process and to see what the results of the test are on the equipment used.
As this shows, implied consent laws kick in when a person is pulled over or arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Of course, one could refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, but this has consequences that we will discuss in a future post. Until then, those who are facing drunk driving charges and have questions about implied consent laws in Virginia may want to seek legal advice.