What is the Impact of a Refusal?

In mid December 2015 the United States Supreme Court surprisingly agreed to decide whether states can make it a crime for a motorist suspected of drunken driving to refuse a breath, blood or even urine test. Currently there are thirteen states that do just that – make it a crime to refuse a breath/ blood test. The defendant’s in the cases to be heard claim such a law violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unlawful searches and seizures. Time will tell what the U.S.S.C. thinks on the matter.

As many in the know are well aware, in 2013 the Supremes, in Missouri v. McNeely, ruled that generally law enforcement officers investigating a DUI incident must obtain a warrant before drawing blood from a driver without his/her consent. To do otherwise may very well result in the test results being suppressed and not available as evidence in a DUI trial. Some states usurped the high court’s ruling by making it an actual separate crime to refuse giving consent to a blood/ breath test, relying on the fact that consent is a ‘condition precedent’ to getting a drivers’ license.

Although Washington State law does not make it a crime in-and-of-itself to refuse a breath/ blood test, it does specify that if a person chooses to refuse a breath/blood test their privilege to drive will be revoked for at least one year, and the ‘refusal’ may be used against him/her in a criminal trial (ostensibly to show a ‘consciousness of guilt’). DUI attorneys in Washington will be anxiously awaiting the U.S.S.C. ruling on the subject; it could dramatically change the complexion of DUI law throughout Washington State, and not in a favorable manner for those accused of DUI.

DUI’s are a serious matter in Washington; folks convicted of DUI face jail, fines, loss of privilege to drive, and court probation, among other things. If you or a loved one is cited for DUI in Washington State you should immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington traffic laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or a drug related DUI in Washington State.

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