As a licensed driver in the state of Washington, you're obligated to adhere to all traffic and safety regulations set forth throughout the state. All states have traffic laws, but not every state's traffic laws are the same. This is an important fact, especially if you plan to drive in various states. Some laws vary quite a bit between states, such as those pertaining to drunk driving.
When you obtained a license to operate a motor vehicle in Washington, you consented to certain things that could impact your future should a police officer ever suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol and ask you to take a Breathalyzer test following your arrest. Are you aware of the implied consent laws in this state? It's something you definitely want to know more about if you're faced with deciding whether or not to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test.
You consented the day you signed your driver's license
Like most other states, Washington operates under implied consent laws regarding DUI arrests. The following facts explain what that means and how it may impact your situation if a patrol officer claims to have probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving:
- Implied consent means that the moment you became a licensed driver in the state where the law applies, you agreed to take a chemical test of your breath or blood when a police officer lawfully requests that you do so following your arrest.
- If you refuse to take a chemical test under such circumstances, you are not committing any criminal violation; however, you will likely incur automatic administrative penalties for your refusal.
- Penalties associated with Breathalyzer or chemical blood test refusal often include a driver's license suspension.
- A refusal on a first offense in Washington risks your license for an entire year.
- Penalties for subsequent refusals in repeat arrests are usually more severe.
- When a law enforcement officer arrests you on suspicion of drunk driving, he or she must inform you that you may refuse a Breathalyzer or chemical blood test.
- The officer must also inform you of the administrative penalties you will sustain for your refusal.
- Prosecutors may use the fact that you refused a chemical test against you in court if you wind up facing DUI charges, and the arresting officer must make you aware of that ahead of time as well.
If you've ever navigated your way through a traffic stop, you know it's always best to remain calm and cooperate with the attending officer. However, you never have to do anything that violates your rights, such as agree to an unwarranted search or answer questions about the investigation without the presence of legal representation.
The court reviews every DUI case on its own merits. Arrest does not always lead to conviction. You can be very proactive to dispute the charges against you, especially if you believe an arresting officer has somehow violated your personal rights.