purchase, george & murphey.

purchase, george & murphey.


Understanding the Repercussions of Breathalyzer Test Refusal in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know

September 20, 2023

Understanding the Repercussions of Breathalyzer Test Refusal in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know

If you’ve recently been pulled over after an evening out and about, you might be wondering about the legal landscape that surrounds you, especially if you’ve had a drink or two. In Pennsylvania, the laws related to DUI (driving under the influence) and breathalyzer tests can seem complex, but understanding them is crucial to navigating the situation effectively. We’re here to guide you through Pennsylvania’s regulations concerning DUIs, what happens if you decide to refuse a breathalyzer test, and other important implications.

The Law on Breathalyzer Tests in Pennsylvania: Implied Consent

To clarify, if a law enforcement officer pulls you over under suspicion of DUI in Pennsylvania, you are indeed obligated to complete a breathalyzer test. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania abides by what is known as an “implied consent” law. By applying for and obtaining a driver’s license in the state, you implicitly agree to comply with a breathalyzer test whenever an officer deems it necessary. Should you refuse to do so, you are effectively breaking this implied agreement, and consequences will ensue.

What Happens If You Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?

What exactly are these consequences? Refusal to complete a breathalyzer test will likely result in a suspension of your driver’s license. However, the severity of the suspension and any accompanying fines depend on whether you’ve refused the test before.

  • First Offense: A refusal for the first time will typically lead to a suspension of your license for 12 months and may include a fine of up to $500.
  • Second Offense: A second-time refusal can extend your license suspension to 18 months and carry a fine up to $1,000.
  • Subsequent Offenses: Any additional refusal will continue to result in an 18-month license suspension and may include a fine of up to $2,000.

Consequences for Underage Drivers

If you are under the age of 21, the legal ramifications can be even more stringent. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for underage drivers in Pennsylvania is just 0.02%. Refusing a breathalyzer test as an underage driver can result in a one-year license suspension for the first offense, and the duration increases for subsequent offenses. Educational programs and community service may also be required.

How a DUI or Refusal Affects Insurance Rates

It’s important to be aware that a DUI or a refusal to undergo a breathalyzer test can have a significant impact on your car insurance premiums. Your rates could increase by as much as 50% or more, depending on your insurance provider and your driving history. Some insurance companies might even drop your coverage altogether, requiring you to seek a specialized (and generally more expensive) insurance policy for high-risk drivers.

Implications for Out-of-State Drivers

For those not residing in Pennsylvania but pulled over within its boundaries, refusal to take a breathalyzer test can still result in penalties from your home state. Depending on the reciprocity agreements between Pennsylvania and your home state, you could face license suspension and fines similar to those for Pennsylvania residents.

Comparing the Consequences to DUI Charges

For context, let’s compare these consequences to those for a first-time DUI charge in Pennsylvania. A DUI conviction could generally entail six months of probation, a $300 fine, and mandatory attendance in a traffic safety course. In some situations, alcohol education or community service may also be required.

What Should You Do if Stopped for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

If you find yourself pulled over on suspicion of DUI, maintaining composure is crucial. Always cooperate with the law enforcement officer. It’s worth noting that the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08%. You may first be asked to complete a field sobriety test. If you don’t pass this preliminary assessment, a breathalyzer test will likely be administered.

When to Consult a DUI Attorney

Given the complex and potentially severe consequences, reaching out to a DUI attorney is strongly advised. At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we represent clients who face charges relating to DUI, breath test refusal, and other related offenses across Erie, Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, and throughout Pennsylvania. 

Contact Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. Today For a Free Consultation About Your Drunk Driving Charge

When it comes to DUI and breathalyzer refusals in Pennsylvania, the stakes are high and the laws are intricate. At Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C., we stand as your dedicated navigator through this complex legal landscape. With our deep understanding of DUI laws and steadfast commitment to safeguarding your rights, we’re more than just lawyers; we’re your advocates. We’ve assisted countless clients in Erie, Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, and throughout Pennsylvania, providing them the insights they need and the representation they deserve.

Don’t gamble with your future; consult with the team that knows how to strategically guide you through your legal challenges. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Your peace of mind starts here.

Disclaimer: The content presented in this article is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you require legal advice, we encourage you to contact our law firm directly.