If you're pulled over due to a traffic violation and the officer suspects that you've been drinking, you'll probably be asked to take a Breathalyzer test.
A lot of people question whether they should agree or refuse. Before you decide, consider these facts:
1. A Breathalyzer is designed to measure how much alcohol is in your system right at that exact moment.
Depending on when you had your last drink, how much food was in your stomach and your metabolism, you could be at a stage where your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is actually slowly rising, not falling, as more alcohol makes it out of your stomach and into your blood stream.
Or, you could be at a point where your BAC is slowly decreasing, because all of the alcohol hit your blood stream a while ago and is now gradually leaving your system.
Agreeing to the Breathalyzer test could be a calculated risk, depending on what stage you think you are at and how much you actually think you could be over the legal limit.
2. Refusing the Breathalyzer test, no matter how politely, will probably result in your arrest on the suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).
Once you are arrested for refusing the Breathalyzer and on suspicion of drunk driving, you'll likely be transported to the station house. You'll then be informed that you will face additional penalties -- on top of any charges you are already facing -- if you continue to refuse the Breathalyzer. Under Virginia's law, you already gave your "implied consent" to be tested when you asked for a license from the state to drive.
If this is the first time you've refused a Breathalyzer test, it's considered a civil offense and your driver's license will be suspended for a year. If you've previously refused consent, you're committing a criminal offense. The penalties vary based on the circumstances and can be quite severe.
Refusing the Breathalyzer test at that point may also be futile -- a judge may simply give the officers a warrant that will obligate you to take the test anyhow.
Ultimately, no answer is right for everyone in every situation -- which is why it's important to have an attorney's assistance. For more information on how our firm approaches DUI cases and might be able to help you, please visit our page.