The sight of lights flashing in your rearview mirror can make anyone uneasy. Those nerves only increase when the police pull you over for suspected drunk driving. During such a tense moment, you might wonder if the law requires you to blow into a test.
The rules, and consequences, vary depending on the type of screening device used.
Can I refuse a roadside breath test?
An officer may wish to check your breath at the scene to confirm a suspicion of intoxicated driving. These scans are not always accurate. A malfunctioning device may show a reading over the legal limit, even if you have not had much to drink. You have the right to refuse a roadside screening. There is no legal consequence at this stage. But, refusal could result in an arrest and further investigation.
Can I decline the official breath test at the police station?
If arrested, the authorities will ask you to blow into a machine at the station. Refusing this test will automatically result in your driver’s license loss. Because as a licensed driver in Washington, you have already consented to a breath analysis under the implied consent law. Implied consent only applies to the test at the police station, not the portable assessment. The administering officer at the station must go over this law with you before allowing you to say no.
Police officers may not remind you of your rights in a high-stakes situation. Protect your future and educate yourself before you get behind the wheel.