Implied consent for VA residents may change, due to Supreme Court ruling

In Virginia, when a driver refuses a chemical test, his or her driver’s license may be suspended. A Supreme Court ruling affects refusal of a blood test.

Life can get complicated quickly for those who are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving in Virginia. The laws are strict for those who are convicted of a DUI in the state, and even those who were not drinking and driving may have a difficult time if they refused to take a blood or breath test, or failed a field sobriety test.

Law enforcement officers are able to arrest those they suspect of drunk driving, regardless of having any proof of alcohol in their system. The manner in which a person was driving, as well as how he or she behaved during the traffic stop or performed during a field sobriety test, may result in being charged with a crime. Additionally, drivers may not understand the state's implied consent laws in regards to refusing a blood or breath test.

Implied consent laws

According to Virginia Decoded, implied consent means that drivers face charges simply for refusing to submit to a blood or breath test if the officer suspects the person of drunk driving. Usually, the penalties for refusing to take a chemical test involve a driver's license suspension.

Also, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, refusing a blood test in Virginia after having had a previous DUI conviction is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and can result in the loss of a driver's license for three years.

Supreme Court ruling changes terms of implied consent

Recently, the United States Supreme Court determined that forcing a person to submit to a blood test violated privacy rights, according to WCYB News. For example, if a driver had AIDS or another medical condition that was detectable in the blood, law enforcement would have access to this information, when all they had a right to know was whether the driver was intoxicated. The Supreme Court ruling states that refusing a blood test during a traffic stop should not result in criminal charges, and that officers who insist on a blood test will need to obtain a warrant. Drivers may still be charged for not agreeing to take a breath test.

In addition to implied consent penalties, the consequences of a DUI are severe in Virginia and include the following:

  • $250 fine for a first conviction
  • Loss of driver's license for one year
  • Mandatory installation of ignition interlock device
  • Possible alcohol treatment program
  • Additional fees for law enforcement and emergency services resulting from an accident

The penalties become significantly higher for subsequent convictions, and drivers under the age of 21 are subject to the same consequences. Therefore, it is important to get in touch with an experienced Manassas drunk driving defense attorney after receiving charges for DUI or refusing a chemical test.